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Geoff

The "new" Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

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On 11/10/2018 at 23:31, Mary said:

It was disconcerting to find the bench seating in the  amphi bar already full with a big party encamped with bags etc when we came out of the performance (Solomon)  in the interval this evening. I was hoping this wasn't going to happen. It does seem a bit unfair on people who have bought tickets.

Downstairs on the ground floor in 'Big Benugos' was an absolute orgy of picnicking on M&S snacks and people even had their own bottles of wine ( no wonder with the ROH prices now) so perhaps ROH are not selling as many sandwiches as they had hoped. For some reason the atmosphere was far from festive and in fact  a bit depressing.

Last night, at least, there appeared to be very few non-ticket holders in the amphi bar area - we happened to get there  early at the first interval and it was almost empty, and only filled up when the rest of the Mayerling crowd piled out. I got the same impression in the ground floor area-  there did not seem to be any noticable or objectionable overcrowding caused by non-ticket holders. There are some quirks like the revised door/area nomenclature, and lack of bag checks,  and they could add some more of the lovely costumes and more informative  displays,  but overall I am favourably impressed with the new areas.

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At the matinee yesterday, there wasn't an usher to be seen in my area until the second interval.  No-one to help people to their seats, no-one sitting inside the auditorium once the performance started.  A member of the public came from the Lower Slips (or whatever it's called now) and watched Act 1 from the user's seat.   Someone finally turned up in the second interval.   Most bizarre.

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Have they removed all the photos in the Amphitheatre Restaurant?  I do hope not, that was one of the best features.

 

And while I have no issue with beige carpet in general, you don't get many public places with light coloured carpet.  Especially those serving food and drink. Let's hope the ROH went for something in polypropylene, which can be bleach cleaned if necessary.  I organised the fitting of new stair carpet in the communal areas for my block of flats last year, so I am well up on these things. 🙂

 

At least, I assume it is carpet you are all talking about?  And not some other beige flooring covering.  Lino? Painted floorboards? 

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Yes, the photographs are all gone.  There are a number of costume prints but they are all along one wall so you can't really see them.  Last night it was only about one third full and this on a Saturday.  Dining there was completely without any atmosphere at all.  Before there was a lovely sense of anticipation and a theatrical buzz.  Now - nothing.  The new chairs with very low backs are extremely uncomfortable and you could be eating in a hotel coffee shop anywhere.  The brief to the 'designers' must have been: please produce something absolutely bland so that patrons feel they could be anywhere in the world eating in a modern restaurant devoid of personality.  Shocking.  

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Oh, Penelope, that is so sad.  I used to love looking at all those photos.  Why on earth would they be removed?  What were the management thinking?  This is the ROH, for goodness sake, not the restaurant in one of the hotel chains.  

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I confess myself baffled by the entire open up project and am beginning to wonder if all the pain regular patrons have suffered over the past four years with the building work was actually an attempt to make them go away!

 

Should have added that good though the food was (apart from cold plates) and charming though the staff were, I won't be eating there again.  I heard the lady at the next table say exactly the same to her waiter. Said she'd been eating there since the original rebuild but that she would now dine in Covent Garden where there was more atmosphere and not so expensive.  

 

It's Cafe Murano for me now or the lovely Greek round the corner.

 

(There was one source of amusement.  The Maitre 'd' and his sidekick have also been kitted out in beige.  Numero Uno was sporting a thick beige check suit that could have been found in Rudolf's hunting lodge but for all the world made him look like Mr. Toad!)

Edited by penelopesimpson
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I don't particularly like the corporate look of the open up areas and don't feel it was worth years of pop-up cloakrooms and random boarding. The cafe downstairs has no atmosphere at all and the ceiling manages to be both pretentious and ugly. I'd rather pop into the slightly more comfortable Costa nearby if I'm early - at least they have that lovely concept of non-communal tables.

 

 Level 5 is even worse. Most of the benches gone, replaced by a tiny gaggle of raised tables for 6 and then there is that horrendous carpet. 

 

But after some thorough searching, I found something I really liked: they made the 'IN' and 'OUT' signage of the loo doors really obvious in the former amphi, and even changed the doors so they look like one that opens inwards and one that opens outwards. If that doesn't clarify it to punters, nothing will.

 

Haven't seen the Linbury yet in person, and living in hope that that was money well spend.

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To me one of the remaining atmospheric areas now left is the area that surrounds the orchestra stalls. It retains the cosy red velvet seats lots of photographs -maybe from the amphi restaurant?- and is,generally pretty quiet.Hope it doesn't get infected by the beige bug!

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28 minutes ago, Coated said:

But after some thorough searching, I found something I really liked: they made the 'IN' and 'OUT' signage of the loo doors really obvious in the former amphi, and even changed the doors so they look like one that opens inwards and one that opens outwards. If that doesn't clarify it to punters, nothing will.

 

 

Yes, that was my one point of real approval too! (Though I did wonder why it's taken 18 years to do something so simple and which has been clearly a problem for all of that time...). Though having read Thalia's post below, the arrangement evidently still isn't quite right.

Edited by bridiem

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22 minutes ago, Coated said:

But after some thorough searching, I found something I really liked: they made the 'IN' and 'OUT' signage of the loo doors really obvious in the former amphi, and even changed the doors so they look like one that opens inwards and one that opens outwards. If that doesn't clarify it to punters, nothing will.

 

The “in” and “out” is now very clear but they’ve changed the former “in” door to be the “out” door in the ladies, which has the potential to cause some severe door bashing to anyone coming out of the disabled toilet. A near miss happened on Monday at the rehearsal. 

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5 minutes ago, ninamargaret said:

To me one of the remaining atmospheric areas now left is the area that surrounds the orchestra stalls. It retains the cosy red velvet seats lots of photographs -maybe from the amphi restaurant?- and is,generally pretty quiet.Hope it doesn't get infected by the beige bug!

 

I wonder then why they've taken down all the photos in the amphi corridors, including the old ones of the theatre. Again - no atmosphere. I hoped/hope that that is just a temporary situation and they are going to put photos up. (But if so, why make a big fuss about re-opening etc if you haven't actually finished?).

Edited by bridiem
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I found myself so baffled by the lack of theatrical feeling that I am wondering if they actually want to turn it into a conference centre.  What are all those little rooms downstairs off the corridor that used to lead to the temporary cloakroom?

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I would recommend that whoever is responsible for the bland atmosphere that now exists visits the RSC in Stratford. A busy shop, pictures, large props (e.g. the bear from Winters Tale) throughout the building, an excellent exhibition, well worth the admission charge, and several eating and drinking places, ranging from a reasonably priced sandwich and coffee  up to a pretty good pre theatre meal that doesn't break the bank. The restaurant is beautifully sited at what was the back of the old upper circle and is decorated with photos and old posters. And lovely views across the river and town. I know which I find most welcoming.

Edited by ninamargaret
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Had to laugh.  The 'new' ROH piazza entry door - revolving and not - was shut off yesterday.  

 

In at least small part, the 'Open Up' incentive already seems to be 'closing down' :)

 

'May' it please NOT be a sign of/for our times!!!

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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35 minutes ago, Bruce Wall said:

Had to laugh.  The 'new' ROH piazza entry door - revolving and not - was shut off yesterday.  

 

In at least small part, the 'Open Up' incentive already seems to be 'closing down' :)

 

'May' it please NOT be a sign of/for our times!!!

 

 

It was open when I went through it yesterday.

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36 minutes ago, Bruce Wall said:

Had to laugh.  The 'new' ROH piazza entry door - revolving and not - was shut off yesterday.  

 

In at least small part, the 'Open Up' incentive already seems to be 'closing down' :)

 

'May' it please NOT be a sign of/for our times!!!

 

 

According to the staff member guarding the piazza entrance, a gust of wind had caught the door as it was closing, bending the frame and shattering the glass. 

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9 minutes ago, Thalia said:

 

According to the staff member guarding the piazza entrance, a gust of wind had caught the door as it was closing, bending the frame and shattering the glass. 

 

Oh that happened at the Lowry earlier this year too.  I hope no-one was hurt by the shattered glass.

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It was shut for a while at least - it just looked like some damage was being repaired (confirmed by others whilst I was composing this)..no need to make a big thing of it! 

Edited by Richard LH
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16 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

 

Oh that happened at the Lowry earlier this year too.  I hope no-one was hurt by the shattered glass.

 

I don’t think so; it just shattered in the frame. I suppose it was roped off as a precaution. 

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7 hours ago, Coated said:

 Level 5 is even worse. 

 

Could you translate, please, Coated? :)  I'm struggling with the "Levels" system.  Indeed, I'm suddenly starting to find myself very disoriented on the "back" and "front" stairs adjoining the Floral Hall.  I'm sure I never used to pay attention particularly to whether I was at Stalls Circle, Grand Tier or Balcony level, but I'm suddenly feeling lost without the names there.

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I popped in last week to have a nosey around - its very "open", and somewhat disconcerting no security checks at all, but just like any other modern building now - characterless I suppose.  I took some photos - the Hamlyn Hall is pretty much the same except for the addition of loads more tables and chairs and the new staircase going down under the existing escalators.  The escalators up and down sides have been switched round so the up is now on the left and down on the right.  That threw me! 

Paul Hamlyn Hall

2-jvCm76.jpg:large

 

If you look at the tutu photos you can see the restaurant behind - (those all glass cabinets are nightmare to photograph the items in them!).  The outdoor terrace has glass sliding windows now which will shield patrons from the wind and rain so that was good, but the public space is much smaller as the restaurant has taken over more space to the left as you go out.

Amphi restaurant/2018 Swan Lake tutu

xrRo_6D3.jpg:large

 

In the photo below Margot Fonteyn's Black Swan tutu/amphi restaurant - and you can see those uncomfortable chairs!

IbYKvC4o.jpg:large

 

Down in the basement there are some lovely items from different shows on display, but I had to ask where I could find the caterpillar shoes which I particularly wanted to see.  The shop is very open plan and not so many things as the old shop - not sure I saw any magazines there either.  Overall everything was quite dear though.

 

The basement level Alice display - there were more for opera and other ballets

jYm4FvMk.jpg:large

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Thanks Don Q Fan - it may of course be my iPad (or me) but I'm afraid I can't see the photos.

Edited by JohnS
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2 hours ago, Don Q Fan said:

The outdoor terrace has glass sliding windows now which will shield patrons from the wind and rain so that was good, but the public space is much smaller as the restaurant has taken over more space to the left as you go out.

 

All unused on my visits thus far :( 

 

And no sign of any magazines in the shop that I can see.  I was really looking forward to those being back :( 

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Oh dear re my photos I can see them but maybe that is because I posted them.....so I'll re post the post trying a different method with my photos!

 

popped in last week to have a nosey around - its very "open", and somewhat disconcerting no security checks at all, but just like any other modern building now - characterless I suppose.  I took some photos - the Hamlyn Hall is pretty much the same except for the addition of loads more tables and chairs and the new staircase going down under the existing escalators.  The escalators up and down sides have been switched round so the up is now on the left and down on the right.  That threw me! 

Paul Hamlyn Hall

DptC4VhWsAAAxCZ.jpg

 

If you look at the tutu photos you can see the restaurant behind - (those all glass cabinets are nightmare to photograph the items in them!).  The outdoor terrace has glass sliding windows now which will shield patrons from the wind and rain so that was good, but the public space is much smaller as the restaurant has taken over more space to the left as you go out.

Amphi restaurant/2018 Swan Lake tutu

DptC70YW4AE9fwO.jpg

 

In the photo below Margot Fonteyn's Black Swan tutu/amphi restaurant - and you can see those uncomfortable chairs!

DptC_hUVAAAKake.jpg

 

Down in the basement there are some lovely items from different shows on display, but I had to ask where I could find the caterpillar shoes which I particularly wanted to see.  The shop is very open plan and not so many things as the old shop - not sure I saw any magazines there either.  Overall everything was quite dear though.

 

The basement level Alice display - there were more for opera and other ballets

DptDCH0W4AAnGgp.jpg

 

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Thanks very much, Don Q Fan - great photos! I was also caught by the change in escalator direction; in fact I nearly came to grief...

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Many thanks Don Q Fan - what magic did you use to post those photos, I have never managed this?

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Thank you for sharing these, Don Q fan! They’re lovely photos. I am really interested to see the Caterpillar’s shoes too. I always thought that they were purple!

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1 hour ago, Don Q Fan said:

 

 

popped in last week to have a nosey around - its very "open", and somewhat disconcerting no security checks at all, but just like any other modern building now - characterless I suppose.  .  The escalators up and down sides have been switched round so the up is now on the left and down on the right.  That threw me! 

 

 

 

I had my bag checked on Monday before the Mayerling performance, as I entered through the new main entrance. I must look a disreputable character!!

The 'decor' in the newer part of the building (the beige/magnolia fest) that's been 'opened up' is pretty dull - but at least they have put up some attractive displays (of tutus etc, as your photos admirably show)

And yes, the switch of the long escalators threw me too - and if on autopilot, still does! 🙂

 

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