The Royal Opera House is negotiating with the Palace Theatre in Manchester to create a Northern base for the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera. This news doesn't thrill everyone in Manchester as the Palace will be a direct rival to The Lowry Centre, the main home for arts performances in the region. Today's Independent gives a good account of the issues involved.
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 75440.html
Although this article expresses concerns over the impact this move would have on touring opera companies, it fails to mention Northern Ballet Theatre, an excellent company that tours throughout the UK but specifically the north of the country.
The Independent's Arts Editor, David Lister, makes some interesting points in his response to this:
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/co ... 75439.html
It seems to me that a lot of politics are at work here: compensation for the lack of a super-casino and the fact that new Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham is a northerner himself. The sums of money bandied around are considerable, but are they realistic in a recession? Of course Prime Minister Brown is planning to increase spending to get us out of that recession, but this project doesn't envisage the sort of large scale employment opportunities that Brown has in mind. Also what about potential audiences? Will the current patrons of the Palace Theatre happily switch from the delights of 'Psychic Evenings' and Freddie Starr to develop an appreciation of opera and ballet? I think not.
David Lister makes some good points about ticket prices and it's worth remembering that the Kirov Ballet did very badly when they charged London prices at the Lowry back in May. On the face of it taking world class opera and the Royal Ballet to Manchester seems a very worthwhile undertaking, but in reality I can't help thinking the timing may be completely wrong.