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alison

Royal Opera House "Open Up" - a year on

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Lizbie1's recent post has made me realise that, with London Open House being this weekend, it must now be a year since the Royal Opera House "Opened Up".  Now that the dust has had time to settle, and there's been time to sort out teething problems, perhaps it's time to take stock.  What's working, in terms of programming, layout and physically, what isn't, and so on.  (But can we just take it as read that the grossly inflated prices on some of the more restricted-view seats stink to high heaven and concentrate on things directly related to the redevelopment, please? :) )

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Here are some things I think should be improved:

 

I would like to see the Right/Left indicators and also the Orchestra Stalls/Stalls Circle/whatever indicators returned to the tickets.  By all means add a staircase letter and a floor number for staff reference, but audience members (especially irregular attenders) would find words more meaningful.  Not to mention those of us who routinely take it upon ourselves to direct the (understandably) lost.

 

I would also like to see the foyer and bar seating areas - other than the café downstairs - be made ticket-holder-only for the hour before a performance until after the final interval is over.  Same for the Amphitheatre Terrace.  And I don't want to see a repeat of this summer's cordoning off of half of that terrace to cater only for people (including non-ticket-holders, when there is a performance on) who wish to buy a drink at that particular bar.

 

In the downstairs café in particular, I would like to see far more opera-and-ballet-specific, accessible and interactive information for the casual visitor, that actually makes an effort to spark their curiosity about the art forms.

 

And I would like to see the toilets on the staircase landings refurbished.  The shiny new ones at ground, basement and Amphitheatre level (actually I can't remember if the Amphi ones have been re-done) are all very well, but some of the others are badly in need of some attention (e.g. the ladies' loos on the House Right staircase near the Lower Slips entrance have had the same broken loo seats for years).

Edited by RuthE
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And this isn't really related to Open Up, but in the spirit of encouraging audience members to have a laid-back and not-necessarily-expensive experience (which I think was Open Up's purpose), I would love to see Dress Rehearsal Pasta extended to become a casual hot food offering at all public performances.

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Please let's go back to Right/Left, Stalls Circle etc. Better arrangements for leaving coats are needed, particularly in the winter. The downstairs caff is handy, although pretty soulless. Food and drink are ridiculously expensive, certainly not geared to young (or old!) audiences. The shop has some pretty things but is overpriced. Proper season booklets are most definitely needed - all the other national theatres can provide this, why not the ROH? Accurate casting and change of cast information must be easily accessible to all, preferably both on the web site and in the theatre. The staff are, in the main, excellent. I've always found them to be helpful and pleasant when asked for help.

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I agree with pretty much everything Ruth/ninamargaret says above. 

 

I would slightly caveat limiting entry to bars etc an hour before a performance to ticket holders only. In an ideal world, yes, but ultimately the ROH needs a revenue stream, and if this supports the overall coffers I don’t mind it. If you think about it a lot of theatres don’t have seating areas outside of the auditorium, so anything ROH has I see as a bonus. Generally by the time you get to intervals it’s quite late and so most people in these areas are ticket holders anyway. I do agree that ticket holders shouldn’t be barred from areas like the terrace though, this is going too far. 

 

Completely think more mini ‘exhibitions’ and information on dance/opera would be great.

 

And the pasta pots sound good. 

 

 

 

 

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in an ideal world there would be a way of getting a drink in a 20 minute interval without a trek to the caff or the PH bar if you are sitting in Stalls Circle right. Being less than fleet of foot i find it impossible to reach either especially if I am in the seats nearest the stage. I've got a sneaking suspicion that seats in left stalls circle are  less easy to get because of its proximity to interval,drinks!

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Hurrah!

 

Now all I need to do is to remember to go in there and look at them.  I've got so much out of the habit that it'll take time to get back into it.

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On 20/09/2019 at 21:51, ninamargaret said:

in an ideal world there would be a way of getting a drink in a 20 minute interval without a trek to the caff or the PH bar if you are sitting in Stalls Circle right. Being less than fleet of foot i find it impossible to reach either especially if I am in the seats nearest the stage. I've got a sneaking suspicion that seats in left stalls circle are  less easy to get because of its proximity to interval,drinks!

 

Agreed - I avoid booking Balcony Right for similar reasons as it feels like such a trek in the interval!

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I must admit, I've taken to referring  the 'left' and 'right' sides at the ROH 'bar side' and 'far side.'

 

Delighted to hear they are now stocking the magazines again. I must remember to go and investigate.

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On ‎20‎/‎09‎/‎2019 at 21:11, JNC said:

Generally by the time you get to intervals it’s quite late and so most people in these areas are ticket holders anyway.

 

Not for matinees...

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The "to do" list at the ROH includes:

  • improved signage generally (I'm sure that many of us act as volunteer ushers on every visit and that never used to be the case)
  • better signs for the Ladies' downstairs in particular so that people with mobility and other issues don't have to join long queues for the disabled toilets
  • thinking through the issues people are raising about the amphi. bar area and coming up with solutions which do not disadvantage ticket holders
  • more professional admin. across a range of departments, especially in the interface with the public
  • refurbishment of existing lifts and the toilets accessed off the auditorium
  • refurbishment of the Stage Door area
  • A RE-THINK ON TICKET PRICES (I have now had more than a dozen reminders to book for Manon but I'm already going 6 times and I reckon that I'm doing my bit). Some other programmes do not seem to be selling all that well, either.
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1 hour ago, capybara said:

A RE-THINK ON TICKET PRICES (I have now had more than a dozen reminders to book for Manon but I'm already going 6 times and I reckon that I'm doing my bit). Some other programmes do not seem to be selling all that well, either.

Strange, I'm going twice but haven't received any reminders to improve on this! Agree about a rethink though, as you say there seem to be an awful lot of unsold tickets. Maybe Marketing needs to be a bit more pro active.

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1 minute ago, ninamargaret said:

Strange, I'm going twice but haven't received any reminders to improve on this! Agree about a rethink though, as you say there seem to be an awful lot of unsold tickets. Maybe Marketing needs to be a bit more pro active.

 

I can't at the moment remember how many Manons I'm going to (all a big blur, like so many other things), but I haven't received any further emails about it either. Which is odd; why would some people be getting emails about it and not others??

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2 hours ago, capybara said:

 

A RE-THINK ON TICKET PRICES (I have now had more than a dozen reminders to book for Manon but I'm already going 6 times and I reckon that I'm doing my bit). Some other programmes do not seem to be selling all that well, either.

 

Agreed.  I may take to emailing them back every time I get such a reminder and point out that I would love to attend more performances, but I have a budget and their current pricing strategy has unfortunately priced me out of attending more often.

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15 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

I can't at the moment remember how many Manons I'm going to (all a big blur, like so many other things), but I haven't received any further emails about it either. Which is odd; why would some people be getting emails about it and not others??

 

I too haven’t been getting any emails about Manon. I hardly get any emails about ballet despite booking solely for that, but I get lots and lots about each and every opera (which I’m not interested in and am unlikely to book for).  I can’t see any way of making my contact preferences more specific as there doesn’t seem to be a way of differentiating between dance and opera. 🤷‍♀️ 

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1 hour ago, ninamargaret said:

Strange, I'm going twice but haven't received any reminders to improve on this! Agree about a rethink though, as you say there seem to be an awful lot of unsold tickets. Maybe Marketing needs to be a bit more pro active.

 

They are advertising Manon on YouTube - I quite like seeing the ad...

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On YT - on their own stream, or whatever you call it, or as an advert preceding something else (you know, the ones where you can Skip This Ad)?

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10 minutes ago, alison said:

On YT - on their own stream, or whatever you call it, or as an advert preceding something else (you know, the ones where you can Skip This Ad)?

 

The latter.

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On 20/09/2019 at 08:55, RuthE said:

 

 

I would like to see the Right/Left indicators and also the Orchestra Stalls/Stalls Circle/whatever indicators returned to the tickets.  By all means add a staircase letter and a floor number for staff reference, but audience members (especially irregular attenders) would find words more meaningful.  Not to mention those of us who routinely take it upon ourselves to direct the (understandably) lost.

 

To all of you who routinely take it upon yourselves to help the lost...a big thank you. This past summer I was one of them!

 

(Of course, I have such a poor sense of direction that maybe all the indicators in the world wouldn't help me, but a few additional ones couldn't hurt.)

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9 hours ago, Thalia said:

 

I too haven’t been getting any emails about Manon. I hardly get any emails about ballet despite booking solely for that, but I get lots and lots about each and every opera (which I’m not interested in and am unlikely to book for).  I can’t see any way of making my contact preferences more specific as there doesn’t seem to be a way of differentiating between dance and opera. 🤷‍♀️ 

Yes, me too.... I’ve only bought ballet & never ever get ballet specific emails or offers.... only booking opens alerts then loads of offers of cheap tickets not opera.... are they not selling enough for opera so needing to discount but not having this problem with ballet? Schedulers take note!!! 

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Not had a single email about Manon.... hope I’ve not missed out as would love to go....

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At the moment ticket sales for both opera and ballet in the first booking period don't look that healthy. There is the occasional ballet performance with a high profile cast  which has sold well but overall people appear to be unwilling to spend their hard earned money and it is hard to tell whether the reason for this reluctance is the choice of repertory which includes pieces which we see far too often such as the frequently revived Holten Don Giovanni and MacMillan's  Manon ;  institutional laziness on the part of the  marketing department which still seems to operate on the basis that it has no need to tell its potential audience from the outset why we should purchase tickets to see rarely performed works as the mere fact that they are to be performed at Covent Garden is sufficient in itself to persuade punters to buy them ; that ticket prices this season have been pitched far too high and are currently set at a level at which they are no longer affordable for many of the local audience who in the past have habitually attended several performances of a single ballet and mixed programmes to see a range of casts; Brexit uncertainty making people unwilling to spend as freely as they have done in the past as our propensity to consume luxuries is determined by how economically secure we feel as individuals or perhaps a combination of all four factors ? I shall be interested to read other peoples' opinions on what they think are the most significant factors which have led to poor ticket sales this time.

 

Edited by FLOSS
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Living outside the U.K., I wouldn’t book tickets after October until we’re sure what the idiots running things are actually going to do - and in theory we should be covered by the Common Travel Area. If I was on the  mainland I’d be even less inclined to do so.

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44 minutes ago, FLOSS said:

At the moment ticket sales for both opera and ballet in the first booking period don't look that healthy. There is the occasional ballet performance with a high profile cast  which has sold well but overall people appear to be unwilling to spend their hard earned money

 

1 hour ago, FLOSS said:

ticket prices this season have been pitched far too high

 

Apart from a few notable exceptions, the first ballet, Manon,  does not look to be selling all that quickly this time (but others might be able to  recall how sales look  compared to the Spring 2018 run).

 

I wonder  how much this is due to prices per se, since the most unsold tickets seem to be in the "less expensive" seats, particularly in the Amphi?

 

For the next "main" ballet, The Sleeping Beauty,  there are relatively few tickets left for Saturday performances compared to mid-week ones -  is this an indication of choosing dates to suit younger audience members? 

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1 hour ago, FLOSS said:

 There is the occasional ballet performance with a high profile cast  which has sold well.....................

 

 

Yes, and in one case, it is positioned at the weekend so that the male dancers' army of fans will have been able to book!

 

 

 

 

Edited by capybara

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For comparison - booking opened at noon today at Paris Garnier for an original Giselle (I mean close to the 1841 production).  When I looked at around 2pm there was ONE ticket left (which I snapped up).  One.

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8 minutes ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

For comparison - booking opened at noon today at Paris Garnier for an original Giselle (I mean close to the 1841 production).  When I looked at around 2pm there was ONE ticket left (which I snapped up).  One.

 

Well, there's more than one ticket available now...

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2 hours ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

Well, there's more than one ticket available now...

There are a few dates which seem to have a couple of tickets available.  I expect they were 'on hold' whilst I was booking and became available later.  But there are very very few, which was my point really.

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