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With Tony Hall leaving, who next at the ROH?


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After Tony Hall's consolidating years, Ismene Brown on the Arts Desk wonders about the last scandal at the Royal Ballet and wants a Wotan throwing thunderbolts for a new ROH Chief Exec:

 

http://www.theartsdesk.com/dance/royal-opera-house-chief-tony-hall-bbc-now-what?page=0,0

 

Your candidates from Valhalla?

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I would have thought it's fairly clear what Ms Brown is after - someone to bark at Kevin O'Hare's heels such that the Royal Ballet produces brand new, cutting edge work that may frighten the horses - with riots in the House à la Sacre de Printemps peut-être, or causing letters to The Times as I imagine happened with MacMillan's Invitation in 1960 - and, yes, The Judas Tree. But, as a simple chap, I thought the RB had already done that in some part with Wayne McGregor's appointment. Now this is all very well, but whoever is sent from Valhalla or anywhere else is going to have to deal with the realities of a House with substantial overheads running on a significantly reduced Arts Council England subsidy, around which suspicions float as to the need for repeated runs of Swan Lake, R&J and, now, Alice, to help cross-subsidise its Opera side. So I hear the cry, but I don't expect substantial change anytime soon, no matter whom the Gods may send.

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Re "those old warhorses" like Swan Lake etc - Some of us may have seen them many times, but there's always a younger generation, and sometimes not so young, who have not yet seen them, (nor attended for instance a live performance of a Beethoven symphony). And there are young dancers wanting to dance them and we want to see them do it. We need a good mixture.

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Intriguing that, as one of the commenters on the article points out, all the names given are associated with Opera rather than Ballet. Do you think that will have any bearing on the ROH focus if someone with lots of opera-experience is chosen? I guess that the ROH probably spend and earn more money on Opera than Ballet [just think of all the new Opera productions!] but don't know how these things work... ;)

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I'll repeat this in tomorrow's Links, but Rupert Christiansen has an intriguing piece in the Telegraph about Tony Hall's time at the ROH, particularly as regards the ballet side of the house. And after Ismene Brown demanding her Arts Wotan, he goes out of his way to emphasise the managerial aspect of the Chief Exec's role, with responsibility for artistic output lying with Pappano, Holten, and O'Hare. That said, he goes on to mention some possible successors .... with Sir Stuart Rose, late of M&S, thrown in to make things interesting.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/9698569/Tony-Hall-Machiavelli-would-have-been-proud-of-Tony-Hall.html

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It has often occurred to me that the ROH has the same problem as many eminent establishments of the arts in the UK: namely the cost of maintaining the fabric of the building. Places like the National Theatre have the same problem and the high cost of upkeep often gets in the way of the artistic endeavours of the director. If only central government would take this on and let the Arts Council grants be restricted to pure production costs then the so-called 'Artistic' Directors could concentrate on 'artistic' matters and wouldn't have to worry about keeping the roof watertight and other basic building administration. Then we might see some real innovative programming!

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Linda: Dragging out once again the copy of the ROH Annual Report for 1959-60 that I have, the concern you mention was raised at length back then. Comparisons were made with the position of the trustees of the National Gallery and British Museum for whom the then Ministry of Works looked after their buildings as the "cultural property of the nation." Back then it would appear that the ROH was the lessee of the Ministry of Works on a commercial basis, with the Ministry itself not the ultimate owner. The Ministry's lease on the building ran then till 1991 and "in such conditions clearly the incentive to improvement is minimal." As far as I can tell, ownership now, as then, lies with a Covent Garden Trust:

 

http://www.theatrestrust.org.uk/resources/theatres/show/443-royal-opera-house-london

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Julia: Had you been a habituée of the amphitheatre at the time, I suspect the answer is "yes" for they would have afforded you and those around you reasonably rapid egress therefrom at the end of a performance. Personally, and putting on my Stephen Fry QI voice, had I felt unable to use a simpler term such as "improved access," I would have insisted on 'vomitoria' as the more accurate Latin plural and its origins are in Roman stadia and the like. In this case it seems an excessive term to me - the relatively narrow corridor to/from the ROH Amphi has never struck me as being the sort of thing that would have been incorporated into the Colosseum or Circus Maximus, and I can only imagine that the arrangements pre-1964 must have been very restrictive indeed. And save by etymological extension, the term has nothing to do with being sick.

 

And, as ever, Google has pages of stuff:

 

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=vomitorium&aq=f&oq=Vomitorium&aqs=chrome.0.59j5j61j60l3.6572&sugexp=chrome,mod=1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

 

Such delightful and informative thread drift on a wet and miserable afternoon!

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Ian, Thanks very much for the information about the ownership of the Opera House. I assume though, that it is a listed building, presumably Grade 1 and considered to be of great national importance. In other words, the Trust has little chance of changing the structure to make it more energy-efficient and/or cheaper to run. Unless the Trust gets a grant towards the upkeep it means that the primary concern must be getting bums on seats and not solely artistic achievement. A very hard balancing act for the new Chief Exec.

 

And I must agree with you re improved access - "Vomitories" indeed! :o

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