CriticalDance Forum

Royal Opera House
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Nov 14, 1999 8:52 am ]
Post subject:  Royal Opera House

As we near the re-opening of the ROH, there are sure to be lots of articles, interviews, etc. I know that some UK dance companies are concerned that they will find it difficult to get any coverage in November/December, because of this.<P>Anyway, here is an interview with Anthony Dowell:<BR> <A HREF=",3604,101374,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,3604,101374,00.html</A> <P>And here is an article about the RB moving into the new rehearsal spaces:<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <BR>&rtmo=Lb7xixLd&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/99/11/11/btball11.html<P>[I've adjusted this URL so that the page doesn't overrun the edges. You will probably have to copy and paste twice to access the article]<P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited 11-20-1999).]

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Nov 14, 1999 5:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

Stuart, yes, I gather there must be a huge sense of anticipation and excitement building up. What is the sense from dance fans? And are tickets to the opening events all sold out?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Nov 15, 1999 7:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

There is a real sense of anticipation among ballet fans. Most of those I know have masses of tickets for the opening performances. I have to say that I am a bit disappointed with the opening selections. Out of 26 ballet performances over the first 10 weeks or so, 15 are Nutcrackers. <P>The ROH now has the most advanced on-line booking system in the UK (we are a bit behind). Here is the URL<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P>So, you can look to see which seats are left from the various performances. As is the usual case in the UK, the full length show (Nutcracker) is just about sold out and there are plenty of tickets for the International Choreographers and the MacMillan Triple.

Author:  Ballet Fan [ Wed Nov 17, 1999 11:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

Why is it the full-length ballets always sell out? Is it because it they are usually based on familiar stories? I thought ballet fans in England and Europe are more sophisticated than American fans.<P>I think someone said (maybe Ben Stevenson) that to sell tickets all ballets should be called Swan Lake (or Nutcracker).

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Nov 17, 1999 3:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

'Why is it the full-length ballets always sell out? Is it because it they are usually based on familiar stories? I thought ballet fans in England and Europe are more sophisticated than American fans.<P>I think someone said (maybe Ben Stevenson) that to sell tickets all ballets should be called Swan Lake (or Nutcracker).'<P>*********************************************<P>Sadly, Ballet-fan, there is a need to differentiate between the UK and Continental Europe. We are a very traditional country in our tastes in many areas. But not in our artists and designers, many of whom are cutting edge and highly regarded across Europe and the Rest of the World. Dance and ballet are no exceptions. <P>Regarding contemporary dance, I have mentioned some names in the Todays Choreographers thread such as Burrows and Maliphant. Believe me, these two really are the business, but they spend much of their time in Continental Europe where their talents are greater appreciated. One of Burrows' team told me that he can command larger audiences in Estonia than in Manchester.<P>In ballet, an anecdote illustrates the position. During the RB Dance Bites tour, a friend told me that after two very stimulating new, modern ballet works from Ashley Page and Cathy Marston, at the start of a very traditional piece by Michael Corder, one audience member said , 'Ah! That's better.' When we see visits from large, avant garde companies, like William Forsythe's Ballett Frankfurt and Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal, it is clear that the UK couldn't support such outstanding artists in the same way.<P>Given this traditional approach, the fact that full length narrative ballets are tops should not come as a surprise. The pattern has been strengthened by the fact that Kenneth MacMillan has added to the number of fine full length works. His R&J and Manon are justifiably very popular here. But it has exacerbated the problem of staging successful triple bills. Rumour has it that for the RB Coliseum season in 1998, the promoters, the Hochhausers, tried to have no triples, but the RB dug their heels in and got one. The Bolshoi, with the same promoters, accepted a no triple bills line. <P>My impression of the situation in the US, is that one of the many positive things to emerge from Balanchine's era is a move to make triple bills as popular as full-length works. Have I misread the situation? <BR>

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Nov 19, 1999 9:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

IMO, Balanchine's name does draw in crowds here in the US but a mixed-bill program (even with a Balanchine work) still does not have the same appeal as a full-length narrative ballet. Perhaps this is because average non-ballet savvy Americans are used to having stories told to them. I thin entertainment in the US tends to break down into two categories; story-telling (as in movies, theater, musicals, opera) and music (rock concerts, orchestral works). To put it crudely, dance falls through the cracks, unless it has a story to tell, then it becomes akin to opera or a "mime-musical."

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Nov 20, 1999 5:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

Thanks Azlan - maybe the difference between the US and the UK is not as great as I thought.<P>As promised, there continues to be a stream of articles about the new ROH. Her are another couple from the same edition of The Guardian.<P>The first is about the building:<BR> <A HREF=",3604,105766,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,3604,105766,00.html</A> <P>The second is about Michael Kaiser, who remains in a honeymoon period with arts lovers and the media alike here in the UK. Long may it continue:<BR> <A HREF=",3604,105765,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,3604,105765,00.html</A> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited 11-20-1999).]

Author:  Mikal [ Sat Nov 20, 1999 4:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

Stuart / Azalan,<BR>I can say that the US has swung towards full length ballets. In the Balanchine era, triple bills were very popular.<BR>But, now, even NYCB has a hard time selling out their all Balanchine programs.<BR>But, it seems that many companies are having a hard time even selling tickets.<BR>Ballet, which had wonderful sucess in the late 70's-80's, is waning.<BR>I think people want to see full length "spectacle" ballets. It is hard to get the modern supporters to join the ballet groups and it is the same in reverse.<BR>There are not many people, outside of NYC, who really like both, and support both.<P>I have seen a large drop in audiences at the ballet here in UT.<BR>The story ballets are more popular than the "rep" shows. They play to houses that are probably half full when they do rep.<BR>But, looks like 3/4 or more when doing full length ballets.<BR>The following is my reasoning for this:<BR>(it is my opinion only...I have no backup on the theory,but it works for me.)<P>In today's US society, people are used to seeing large scale movies, and brdwy shows.<BR>Phantom, Les Miz etc are always sold out.<BR>But take a small play, or a moderate scaled show, and people don't like to see it.<BR>(lets not count the movie Blair Witch..that was a freak.)<BR>The general audiences have gotten to want a big bang for the bucks.<BR>If you are going to pay 40.00 for a ticket, I think, most people want more than leotard/tights and a bounce in blue. They figure they should be getting a full costumed, full production show.<BR>They are used to paying 7.00 for movies, and the movies are high budget, and very elaborate. (Shakespeare in Love..etc.)<BR>People want this escape from their everyday 50 -60 hour work week. Not just something abstract. The younger kids are being brought up on these large budget movies, and entertainment..Even in video games, the more elaborate the better selling. Pong doesn't hack it....but look at some of the newer best sellers. So, the tastes are developing towards more extensive productions.<BR>When I was doing my school concerts, they had full story lines, and costuming. When the kids moved to the Ballet West school, the parents were horribly disappointed when the shows were just simple colored drops, and not much in the way of costumes..cheaper to produce, easier to put on for that school,but the parents and kids felt cheated.<BR>So, the above is my theory of why the US has changed again, back to more production oriented shows. Demand for more bang for the buck, expectations from the other entertainment media causing dance to fall behind if it doesn't meet "excitment" expectaions. Cost of tickets.<P>------------------<BR>bek

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Nov 21, 1999 5:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

Bek, many thanks for that carefully reasoned hypothesis for the growing popularity of full-length, large scale productions in the US.<P>A supporting observation - Continental Europe, where contemporary dance and modern ballet are strong, still has a tradition of small-scale film making and theatre work. So , perhaps small-scale, non-flashy dance work will make a greater impact under those circumstances.<P>In passing, one leading UK choreographer, Richard Alston, has said that he has no interest in increasing the size of his own company beyond 10 and that his personal interests are focussing more and more on pdds and similar chamber work, where a greater concentration and intensity of emotion can be achieved. <P>On a statistical note, my understanding is that ballet and dance audiences are holding up in the UK, albeit at a relatively low level compared with some other art forms. Theatre audiences, on the other hand, have fallen by about 30% over the past 10 years. I would hypothesise that, although more and more dance performances are available on film, the live experience is relatively more satisfying for dance and hence audiences continue to come to the real thing.

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Dec 01, 1999 8:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

Here's a story about opening night at the ROH:<BR> <A HREF=",2107,500063848-500105716-500474589-0,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,2107,500063848-500105716-500474589-0,00.html</A>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Dec 22, 1999 1:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

A bad week for the Royal Opera House in London. Problems continue with the high-tech. stage, which have delayed rehearsals. Michael Kaiser gave a guarantee 4 weeks ago that only the performances of 'La Grand Macabre' would have to be cancelled. However, they have now had to cancel a further five, single performances of various operas and ballets. Here is an article about the problems:<BR> <A HREF=",3604,116408,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,3604,116408,00.html</A> <P>There is also a growing clamour about the price and availability of tickets. Some of the cheapest seats have gone up by between 50% and 200%, although, as far as I can see, the most expensive have come down compared with the old House. Thus, the corporates etc. have it cheaper and the dedicated fans have to pay more. This is serious as the ROH has given guarantees about improving access, in order to gain grant increases of 25%, much to the dismay of the rest of UK dance.<P>In addition, early booking by the Friends of Covent Garden seems to be less successful because there are new premium levels of Friends, which means that the rank and file members (who pay £50 pa, nevertheless) are further back in the queue. Here is a letter from an opera fan, but various ballet fans have said that the same situation applies for ballet.<BR> <A HREF=",3604,116451,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,3604,116451,00.html</A> <P>Michael Kaiser has been enjoying a honeymoon period with the UK media and public and has been much more impressive than his predecessors. Of course, he has had it relatively easy during the closure period, but he is now being tested for real. I still believe that he has as good a chance of success as anyone and I have my fingers and everything else crossed on his (and our) behalf. <BR>

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Dec 24, 1999 9:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

Stuart, my fingers are crossed along with yours. The ballet world cannot afford the RB not to be successful.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jan 23, 2000 12:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

It has not been a good week for the ROH. Technical problems seem never-ending and (perhaps related) some performances where good dancers in new roles looked under-rehearsed.<P>An article in 'The Sunday Times' suggests that the only solution is a temporary closure to sort out the problems. The current situation is certainly demoralising for both performers and audiences. <BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited 01-23-2000).]

Author:  Azlan [ Tue Jan 25, 2000 8:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Opera House

Another closure?!!! No, that would be disastrous!

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