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JohnS

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  1. Many thanks Nogoat - brilliant review (I had to look up the trolley problem).
  2. Many thanks for all the cinema reviews and looking forward to the encore on Sunday - not doing a very good job as parish council clerk as I've managed to schedule meetings which clash with both Mayerling and Nutcracker relays.
  3. As Luke Jennings reviewed opening night, I rather wonder if the Guardian will review a different cast - and Bonelli/Morera don't dance until later in the run. Judith Mackrell has already contributed longer features e.g. below which I think was after she stood down: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2018/jul/16/dance-ballet-metoo-culture-bullying?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
  4. I see Matthew Ball has posted a short video on Instagram when the curtain rose after his debut and he steps forward - taken by Francesca Hayward. Also an astonishing photo of his suicide from the wings. I hope the link works.
  5. Thanks Don Q Fan - it may of course be my iPad (or me) but I'm afraid I can't see the photos.
  6. A few additional thoughts on yesterday’s double Mayerling from the journey home. I thought the evening made a particularly strong impression because of the excellence of the cast. Osipova, Lamb, Hayward, McNally - just stunning, as were Campbell and Corrales. Such a cast requires an exceptional Rudolf and while I found Hirano at times very moving (with Elisabeth and much of Act 3) and terrifyingly repellent (Stephanie’s wedding night), I thought both Mary and Larisch came across as the stronger controlling characters, in many ways leading Rudolf to his destruction. In the Matinee, I was much more convinced that Rudolf was the driving force, an outstanding achievement by Matthew Ball on his debut. There were other fine performances - I particularly enjoyed Olivia Cowley’s Larisch, Fumi Kakeko’s Mitzi and Paul Kay’s very touching Bratfisch (as others I see have noted). And Gary Avis’s double Bay was beyond an indulgent treat - like pouring melted finest dark chocolate on a tray bake and seeing the chocolate spread perfectly into all four corners. Good to hear the orchestra and Koen Kessels in such form and a special thanks for Catherine Carby’s Katherina Schratt. Wonderful to see the reactions of all the cast to Ich Scheide, Francesca Hayward particularly evocative, looking at Rudolf with such sadness, a combination of fear and contempt, and turning away in resigned acceptance of her lot. There’s been so much to praise in this Mayerling already but I do wonder if we’ll also remember the run for the absences - Ed Watson’s injury and I’m tempted to say Francesca Hayward not being cast as Mary.
  7. I very much enjoyed this evening's performance with such a stellar cast. I'm struck by how the Royal Ballet seems to have carried on from last season's heights. I find Natalia Osipova's Mary utterly compelling - she seems the driving force in the suicide pact and her kiss at the end of Act 2 is spine chilling, vampire like and reminiscent of Salome. In Rudolf's/Mary's sadomasochism, Mary to me is very much in control. A fabulous double Mayerling day and the early start/travel disruption seems of no consequence. I'll enjoy the journey home tomorrow with time to reflect at leisure and savour the other posts and photos.
  8. I very much enjoyed the Matinee and will treasure Matthew Ball's memorable debut. I hope very much to see Matthew's Rudolf grow in maturity over the years. I found the pdd with Stephanie a little telegraphed as there seemed too much advance warning of lifts etc - here's my knee etc from Elizabeth Harrod and I would have welcomed greater abandon from Melissa Hamilton's Mary - at times I thought Matthew Ball could have done with Melissa Hamilton higher in the air. But it was a fabulous debut and I'm delighted to have witnessed it - well worth the early start this morning! Looking forward immensely to tonight's performance and how splendid Open Up feels from first viewing. More considered thoughts later.
  9. Chance to catch up on some important threads, including the disturbing Baker Richards puff which has damaged the credibility of the Royal Opera House. I’m more than happy to support the aim: ‘increasing earned income, while at the same time becoming more approachable to a wider audience.’ There are pressures on grants giving organisations like the Arts Council and I can quite understand the desirability of ensuring grant receiving organisations are accessible. Turning to what is said about pricing, for a consultancy that emphasises the importance of data and analysis, it seems very weak to state without any quantification: ‘ROH confidently reduced some prices while increasing others, and raising the overall financial capacity of the venue.’ When Swan Lake prices were published there were a number of comments on the Forum with a lot of complaints about the steep increases in prices for some tickets, including the moving of tranches of tickets into higher price categories - a double whammy. I recall that some tickets were moved to a lower price category but those identified were Orchestra Stalls extreme sides (e.g. A1 and A2). So a handful of Stalls tickets were cheaper for Swan Lake than for Nutcracker but as far as I’m aware just a handful of still relatively expensive tickets. It seems deliberately misleading to choose a formulation ‘ROH confidently reduced some prices while increasing others’ which gives an impression of balance in its approach to pricing. That is then contradicted by the concluding statement ‘raising the overall financial capacity’, where the net effect is an increase in ticket sales so there has to be an overall increase in prices. It also disguises the point that price reductions were for a handful of still relatively expensive seats and my understanding is that the most significant percentage increases were for relatively cheap seats. And of course matinee prices are no longer discounted. It would be interesting to see how many seats were reduced in price, by how much and where, or the average price and average reduction for those seats reduced in price, with similar analysis for those seats where the price increases. But there’s nothing presented, just the lazy ‘ROH reduced some prices while increasing others’ - so much for the ‘data led, evidenced based approach’ lauded by Baker Richards. Moving to the statements which have caused most offence: Baker Richards: ‘ROH was relying on a small core of extremely frequent customers (though not always very high value in terms of ticket yield or donations) to sell the majority of tickets.’ Again there’s remarkably little quantification on this and others have highlighted that the majority of the audience are far from being frequent customers. A public document is quoted stating 70% of the ROH audience are single-timers. So are most tickets going to frequent customers or are most of the audience single-timers? The Baker Richards article sheds no light on this despite claiming the importance of data analysis. I’m afraid Lucy Sinclair’s quotes are awful however many times I read them: “We need to accept the difficult reality that making more tickets available to new audiences sometimes means that the frequency of attendance of regular customers might need to reduce. This is an incredibly delicate balance, where we need to increase price just enough to reduce frequency of attendance without reducing income or being exploitative. We can only embark on such a strategy with a really sophisticated understanding of the behaviour of our customers.” Where there is massive demand for tickets for certain productions/performers, the Royal Opera House has operated limits on ticket numbers when priority opens. But here Lucy Sinclair seems to suggest pricing can be used to discourage regular customers and those tickets no longer purchased by regular customers would then be available for new customers who would be happy to pay the higher prices. Once tickets are available for sale it’s very much a free market and customers can chose to make their purchases without restriction. I can't help but wonder if Baker Richards’ throwaway comment about frequent customers not always generating ‘very high value in terms of ticket yield or donations’ is telling - it certainly reveals a contempt for loyal audience members. Finally, I thought it illuminating to see in print the rationale for cutting back on print marketing (although not for the Open Up brochure) and the primacy of digital marketing: ‘The last year has seen big changes to the ROH’s overall marketing approach, again driven by data. This has meant a radical reduction in spend on paid-for media (press, radio, outdoor, printed brochures), where results can’t be tracked, and instead focussing virtually all investment on digital marketing, where return on investment can be closely monitored.’ It seems ease of data analysis is the key. But I do get tired of assertions of a ‘data-led, evidence-based approach’. Would anyone advocate the converse - ‘data free, non evidenced’? In which case the claims are pretty pointless and to me draw attention to the lightweight nature of the article with its lack of proper analysis of pricing and audience make up but which sadly has had such damaging consequences. For my part I am delighted to remain a Friend, Baton Associate and attend performances at the Royal Opera House, even more so when able to book 'our named seats', use the shop for books/DVDs, and encourage friends to go. But I sincerely hope the Royal Opera House looks again at its handling of all this and really does learn important lessons. With apologies to Capybara and I will be delighted to turn to thoughts on Mayerling.
  10. Storm Callum has struck and an emergency timetable introduced. Virgin emailed details last night so at least there was some notice. I eventually realised I could catch an earlier train making an additionally stop at Penrith but had to be up at 5:00. Now waiting for the train running 16 minutes late but shoukd make this afternoon's matinee which at one time looked unlikely, or at least Act 1. Whilst I was impressed with Virgin's email, Virgin's website was down yesterday evening - another casualty of Storm Callum or insufficient capacity to deal with customers' questions?
  11. Just hoping Storm Callum doesn't cause any major disruption to Virgin West Coast as I have double Mayerling tomorrow, and a first chance to see Open Up. Many thanks to all for so many thought-provoking posts which have well and truly whetted the appetite.
  12. I think Margaret was comparing Romeo & Juliet prices with Nutcracker evening prices (£74) rather than the Matinee prices.
  13. Thank you bridiem and others who have written to the ROH. On a similar note, having gone on about how good the ROH's 'News' website is and how it seems Facebook and Twitter are the ROH's preferred forms of communication, should we post our thoughts on Open Up and performances etc on News as much as possible? If the website gets more comments than Twitter, might that help ensure the continuance of the website's News - use it or lose it?
  14. JohnS

    Royal Opera: Ring Cycle

    Many thanks ninamargaret. Looking forward immensely to the 4th cycle. When you've recovered, please would you be able to confirm the timings Bluebird's post above was for 2012?
  15. To be honest I have seen people confuse orchestra stalls and stalls circle so better labelling might help in all parts of the house.
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