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Geoff

The "new" Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

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That is shocking.  😲  

The view from the Piazza bar ain't that great! 

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So now the Open Up, all welcome, BYO food and drink, dump your luggage,use the necessary, have a meeting, get out of the cold, policy is what exactly?  All those new people who have been told ROH is a tourist destination are to be paid for by overcharging ticketed patrons who buy a drink.  Sounds a bit like the Titanic; First Class on the Piazza Terrace, 2nd Class in the Floral Hall, Steerage on the Ampitheatre Terrace and ticketless stowaways in the station waiting room or ducking and diving with BYO!

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Of course Covent Garden was always lacking in seating without having to pay for a drink, and toilet facilities, and the ROH has kindly provided these, but on Wednesday I got there early and really felt out of place, Steerage or Stowaway perhaps, I went for a walk and felt better when I returned, more like I belonged, it takes a lot of getting used to :)

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It feels muddled & confusing.... could not work out at all where one was or wasn’t allowed to be with a drink in the interval.... or how to go to the more expensive be served place.... all looked open access but yet didn’t feel that it was... guessing it was the bleak part of terrace with fewer people at it? I only saw an easel with menu for this section after buying drink at bar..shame as this area had much more extensive drinks choices...though I question if there would be time in an interval so perhaps this is more aimed at visit to this bar/restaurant as main reason for visiting the ROH.

But there is no discreet restaurant on top floor anymore....Would not feel ‘special’ being gawped at by all & sundry whilst parting with big sums to dine there.... the old one (only went the once sadly) was perfect for a special occasion. I also imagine less ideal for any celebrities as again too on show, too open to all (I think we all actually like to have different levels to experience at different times...) & how does this possibly work for security? When I go to a theatre I love the fact that everyone in the building is there for a shared reason. There is a special temporary camaraderie that develops. This new free flow in & out, whilst honourable & admirable in its intentions, seems to devalue the brand IMHO. As do the flimsy already looking wobbly & scruffy retro styled tables & chairs. Especially horrid are the tall tables with spindly legs. Proportions look wrong, lifespan looks short & where is the glamour of a World Famous Opera House?

Sorry for my rambling rant!

I miss the ‘old’ place....Sigh.....

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Well said.  Glamour has been entirely forgotten in what seems like a weird kind of inverted snobbery.  You don’t pay top dollar for a meal in an expensive restaurant simply for the food.

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I've been thinking about this whole scenario with the 'new' ROH.  I know nothing about the Chief Exec and people say he is a good egg, but somebody somewhere seems to have lost the plot.

 

We start with the premise that despite the fact ROH is almost always playing to full-houses and has a core supportive audience that other brands/organisations would kill for, the management has convinced itself that it needs to change.  Such change seems to be aimed at paring back anything that might be construed as glamorous or elitist because the image of 'toffs' swigging champagne, however erroneous, is harmful.  We are not told quite who this is harmful to, nor is it acknowleged that the vast majority of patrons do not fit this stereotype and are attending because they love ballet and opera.

 

One might think that the obvious way forward would be to concentrate on the product but no, the chiefs decide that building a massive new extension to accommodate people who may not wish to see or even learn about a performance is the way to go.  At the same time, other areas will be re-structured with the same aim.  When you write this down it seems extraordinary...but read on.

 

Construction, allegedly paid for by sponsors, takes four years and massively disrupts the building.  The end result is a mediocre all-purpose area with zero atmosphere and only a passing glance towards the Arts.  Astonishingly, no room can be found for the box office, surely the engine room of ROH.  Alterations to bars and restaurants are expensive follies, now committed to justifying their high cost through raised prices.  Nowhere is there any evidence of artistic flair, design excellence or architectural wonder.  In short this international Opera House has been shorn of its glamour.

 

And this is the punchline.  ROH promoted as a tourist destination.  People told they can now come in and share the wonders of this great international Opera House and find there is little to see.  Isn't this where we came in?

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Saw the "new" ROH for the first time two weeks ago and wasn't a fan. The new space makes the ROH feel like two different buildings: a Marriott juxtaposed with a beautiful opera house.

 

Not sure what I feel about letting the public in at all hours of the day. It would be fairly easy for someone to attend a performance having not purchased a ticket (provided it isn't sold out, as the mixed rep wasn't last Tuesday/Wednesday), particularly after first interval when ushers aren't vigilant. I was also hoping the new space would provide an expanded gift shop or a real box office, but to no avail (supposedly the box office is moving?) 

 

Overall the new space feels perfunctory, not a good thing when part of one of the leading opera houses in the world. Personally I don't mind a bit of opulence, especially having just toured the beautiful Staatsoper Berlin. Covent Garden is one of my favorite theaters, but the open-up doesn't do it justice.

 

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The box office HAS moved. It's now in the corner of the café (described as Main Foyer on the notice), along the wall with the Open Up display.

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3 hours ago, MRR said:

 

Overall the new space feels perfunctory, not a good thing when part of one of the leading opera houses in the world.

 

to be fair, the new 'covered' bar outside the amphi bar area, is pretty good. When you can get into it, that is

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34 minutes ago, MargaretN7 said:

The box office HAS moved. It's now in the corner of the café (described as Main Foyer on the notice), along the wall with the Open Up display.

 

Ooh good, has it?  Just as the RB is finishing its season and I probably have little reason to use it?  I'm assuming the timing was NOT deliberate.

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Reading all the comments and having "experienced" the Open Up initiative I would like to mention a couple of theatres where front of house rebuilding/construction worked and didn't work in my opinion.

 

Didn't work - the concrete carbuncle built on the side of the Liverpool Playhouse in the 1960s.

 

Did work - Bradford Alhambra's sensitively done extension (1980s), Edinburgh Festival Theatre's glass extension on the front of the traditional auditorium (1990s?).

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The new Bristol Old Vic front is a complete triumph IMO.

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Posted (edited)

Yes, there it is.  Buy a gluten-free Muffin and you might. Find the Box Office - a  sort of Helmand - province style oupost in a sea of nothing.

Edited by penelopesimpson

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I'm certainly not a fan of the caff, as I rudely call it, but I would like to make a couple of points,in its favour. Last night I was with a friend who is,elderly and very frail. Add to this I have mobility problems and between us,we look a pretty decrepit pair.Although we both like the PH bar the caff is more convenient for her, saving extra lift journeys. And the staff are pleasant and helpful, happily taking our drinks to a table. And I did notice the box office - it certainly looked like an afterthought, but is at least better than nothing.

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One highlight from a Friends email just received:--

 

>>the Box Office has moved back into our Ground Floor Foyer, alongside the cafe.

 

Have not yet tried this in the new location: do they have enough room to deal with everybody and everything?

 

 

 

 

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I'd imagine so: they're more or less in the corner where the revolving door off Bow Street used to be.

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12 hours ago, alison said:

I'd imagine so: they're more or less in the corner where the revolving door off Bow Street used to be.

No, it's just behind the staircase leading to the PH  bar.

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27 minutes ago, ninamargaret said:

No, it's just behind the staircase leading to the PH  bar.

 

which is where the revolving door into Bow St used to be

 

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More to the point does it stand out, is its purpose clear, is it easily accessible from outside/from within, is space set aside for people waiting to be attended to, in other words (and I know this is novel thinking for the new ROH) does its new location and layout facilitate its function?

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37 minutes ago, David said:

More to the point does it stand out, is its purpose clear, is it easily accessible from outside/from within, is space set aside for people waiting to be attended to, in other words (and I know this is novel thinking for the new ROH) does its new location and layout facilitate its function?

 

Personally, the only test it fails for me from above is that it isn't immediately accessible from outside. If you come in from the piazza, you only see it side on (I missed it completely the first time I came in that way, after its arrival), and is the other side of the Linbury staircase if you come in via the main doors from Bow St. - and its also behind the staircase leading up to the Floral Hall from the new caff area. Once you do get there though, it does look fir for purpose

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Interesting broadside from Rupert Christiansen at the end of his review of Werther (mods please edit if this is too long):

 

"Two long intervals meant that the performance didn’t end until 10.45 – far too late for people living outside central London. Given this sort of metropolitan high-handedness, its mediocre website, rotten over-priced catering and refusal to issue any printed seasonal brochures, one may well wonder quite how serious the Royal Opera House is about its trumpeted desire to “open up” to ordinary working folks."

 

Link: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/opera/what-to-see/werther-royal-opera-house-reviewjuan-diego-florez-lights-otherwise/

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It's only 2 sentences, Lizbie, so that's fine :) 

 

And you've just given me an idea for a new thread ...

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4 hours ago, Lizbie1 said:

Interesting broadside from Rupert Christiansen at the end of his review of Werther (mods please edit if this is too long):

 

"Two long intervals meant that the performance didn’t end until 10.45 – far too late for people living outside central London. 

 

My heart sank when I saw this sentence, as I'm seeing Werther in a couple of weeks. I might have to dash out before the curtain calls, like I had to for both Billy Budd & Nozze di Figaro last season, in order to get a train that gets me home at half past midnight rather than 1am.

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2 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

 

My heart sank when I saw this sentence, as I'm seeing Werther in a couple of weeks. I might have to dash out before the curtain calls, like I had to for both Billy Budd & Nozze di Figaro last season, in order to get a train that gets me home at half past midnight rather than 1am.

 

The stupid thing is that none of these productions is or was new and only Billy Budd was new to the house, so why the overruns?

 

The occasional miscalculation with a new production I could understand, but not the umpteenth revival or a bought-in known quantity.

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5 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

The stupid thing is that none of these productions is or was new and only Billy Budd was new to the house, so why the overruns?

 

The occasional miscalculation with a new production I could understand, but not the umpteenth revival or a bought-in known quantity.

 

Is it an overrun or just overly long intervals (planned in advance)?

 

I understand people want to get a drink and most want a toilet break but I really think a (planned) 25 minute interval is too long. Have intervals always been this long? Perhaps this is harsh but I think 15-20 minutes tops should be long enough for everyone, and perhaps one longer interval and one shorter one would suit better (although give less opportunity for drink revenue). Having said that I prefer longer intervals to people being allowed to take food/drink into the auditorium! 

 

It’s quite a bold statement from the critic but a highly valid one and I hope ROH take note. (Including very valid points around brochures and overpriced food.)

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There are sometimes 20 minute intervals, however longer ones, so I've been led to believe, can be necessary for performers and/or stage crew.

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10 minutes ago, JNC said:

Is it an overrun or just overly long intervals (planned in advance)?

 

The reason I assume it's unplanned is that anything past 10.30 attracts additional payments to the orchestra - unless something has changed.

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On 20/09/2019 at 17:03, Dawnstar said:

 

My heart sank when I saw this sentence, as I'm seeing Werther in a couple of weeks. I might have to dash out before the curtain calls, like I had to for both Billy Budd & Nozze di Figaro last season, in order to get a train that gets me home at half past midnight rather than 1am.

 

I saw Werther on Friday night and it finished at 10:40.  I was in the SC and had a very good view of the mass exodus during the curtain calls from the OS, presumably for similar reasons.  

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