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Royal Opera House sees record £127.5m income


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I just picked this up: 

 

http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/finance/news/content/19847/royal_opera_house_sees_record_1275m_income

 

Interesting that although the RB's income rose by £1.5m, mostly from ticket sales, the cost of new productions rose by 5 times as much.  At the risk of being thought a philistine, perhaps they should stick to more traditional sets - all that flashy lighting and special effects for new contemporary works must be very expensive.

 

Linda

Edited by loveclassics
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This is what I saw online: Income from the Royal Ballet was up by £1.5m from £12.8m in 2013 to £14.3m last year.  But the cost of productions also rose from £97.1m in 2013 to £104.6m last year.  Looking at the total it must be for all productions but I didn't spot it at the time.  Apologies for that.  I don't go to opera performances at the ROH - were there a lot of new productions last year?

 

Have to say that I still don't see the need for laser and other lighting effects that always seem to be part of new works.  Can't the dance speak for itself?

 

Linda

 

Edited to correct grammar.

Edited by loveclassics
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This is what I saw online: Income from the Royal Ballet was up by £1.5m from £12.8m in 2013 to £14.3m last year.  But the cost of productions also rose from £97.1m in 2013 to £104.6m last year.  Looking at the total it must be for all productions but I didn't spot it at the time.  Apologies for that.  I don't go to opera performances at the ROH - were there a lot of new productions last year?

 

Have to say that I still don't see the need for laser and other lighting effects that always seem to be part of new works.  Can't the dance speak for itself?

 

Linda

 

Edited to correct grammar.

 

 

The rise in the production costs for both the ROH ballet and opera streams must be especially marked given the ever rising number of co-productions (sometimes with more than two Companies) within recent time frames..  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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It is unfortunate that the costs are not broken down so that we could compare the costs of the opera side of the organisation with the ballet's.

 

As I understand it the opera and ballet companies are each required to cover their own costs. The ballet company no longer subsidizes the opera.As far as the opera side of the organisation is concerned I heard a long time ago that the cost of mounting a new production is covered by the time of the third revival. I have no idea when a new ballet production breaks even and goes into profit but I think that we have to accept that a new production like Don Q does not have lots of performances simply to run the production in and to ensure that the company has the choreography well and truly embedded in their bodies. The large number of performances ensures that some of the expenditure is recovered in double quick time.

 

The ROH annual report is accessible on line.It describes expenditure under a number of headings one of which is "Performance,Learning and Outreach". As there appears to be no separate heading for the costs of the people who actually perform in the pit and on the stage I assume that these costs are included under this heading as well as the costs of sets and costumes,licences to perform ballets and the cost of authorised coaches.

 

The opera company no longer has a number of contract singers which reduces the on costs but it does have a chorus which it will add to on an ad hoc basis for certain operas.As singers in the chorus are older than the dancers they are generally paid considerably more than members of the corps de ballet. That may seem unfair to some but they were required to appear in nineteen different productions during the 2013-14 season, singing in Italian, French and German. There were four new productions during the season plus a production that was new to the House and fourteen revivals on the main stage.We had a new Sicilan Vespers and a new Parsifal,a new Die Frau ohne Schatten and a new Manon Lescaut and a new Maria Stuarda. The Dialogue des Carmelites was described as new to Covent Garden. New productions cost a lot not simply because of the initial production costs but because the casts for new productions tend to consist of big names. But that does not mean that revivals come cheap the revival of La Fille du Regiment included Juan Diego Florez who will have cost quite a bit.

 

Most of the productions being revived paid for themselves a long time ago but that does not mean that they did not cost a lot to stage.The cost of each opera varies according to its category, Italian, French or German whether star names have been engaged for a particular revival and the general scarcity of certain types of singer. Generally singers required for Wagner and Strauss are in shorter supply and are therefore more expensive than those required for the Italian repertory unless you are staging Turandot which requires singers with big voices. A good rule of thumb is a big voice costs big money and as Wagner and Strauss went in for big orchestras operas by these composers require singers with big voices.

 

The new Parsifal had a set that looks like nothing very much but costs a bomb while Frau probably had a lot more spent on it than was obvious from the auditorium.The Maria Stuarda looked like a pretty cheap production the presence of Joyce DiDonato would have added considerably to the costs. The new production that almost certainly cost considerably more than intended was The Sicilian Vespers.

 

It was directed by the latest fashionable opera director who the world's musical press have agreed is a genius. As a result no expense was spared.The action was set inside an opera house so the back of the stage had tiers of opera boxes, each chorus member appeared to have an individually designed costume and the whole thing should have been pressed into service for use in the new Masked Ball that we had at the beginning of this season. So far so good. But this new Vespers was supposed to include the entire ballet music with choreography by Johan Kobborg and as we all know that did not happen.The director decided that he did not want Mr Kobborg and his ballet. And almost as soon as the change of plan was announced Mr Kobborg decided that he wanted to leave the company.Given that this occurred only about four months before the production was due to be premiered quite a lot of cost must have been incurred in preparation.My recollection is that the ballet was intended to involve members of the Royal Danish Ballet so I assume that the opera company must have incurred expenditure in compensating everyone effected by this last minute change of plans on the part of the opera company. Unfortunately the truth may not be revealed for many years but at the time it seemed like pretty shabby treatment by the opera company.

 

Now for the ballet. New productions cost a lot but some revivals don't come cheap either. I know I attended a meeting some time ago at which Monica Mason was the speaker. One of the first things she told us was that while it was nice to know that we wanted to see performances of certain ballets but we had to understand that in asking for revivals of Gloria,Requiem,Song of the Earth and Les Noces we were asking for the revival of some of the most expensive works in the Royal Ballet's repertory.

 

The new ballet productions were Carlos Acosta's Don Q , Wheeldon's Winter's Tale and a new work by Marriott. There was also a revival of Gloria.The two full length works had complicated stagings and in the case of Don Q involved re-orchestration of Minkus' score and in the case of the Wheeldon a new score.The revivals would have involved the cost of licensing and in some cases at least the use of authorised external coaches.An ill educated guess of the break down in costs between the opera and ballet companies is that for every three pounds spent by the opera company the ballet spends two.

 

Anyway although I agree that Wayne McGregor's works call for over complicated lighting and other effects which I sometimes feel are there to distract us from the lack of real choreographic content in his works I fear that we will be forced to find him not guilty as far as the bulk of the expenditure on the ballet during 2013-2014 is concerned.

Edited by FLOSS
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Bangorballetboy. Thank you for pointing me to where the figures can be found. I am relieved to discover that my educated guess is not too far off the mark.

 

It seems to me that all the while O'Hare shows that he has his finger on the pulse and knows what he is doing as far as commissioning new works and ticket sales are concerned the ballet management will be left alone. But the minute that his sureness of touch is perceived to have disappeared that will be the end of the free rein as far as choice of repertory and programming is concerned. Whatever you think about his choice of choreographers and the works that they produce it would be nothing short of a disaster if the company has another "Mr Worldly Wise moment".

 

I imagine that the US tour was intended to make money rather than to gain prestige so it must be something of a disappointment that ticket sales seem to be so poor in New York. I understand that ballet tours are underwritten in New York to ensure that visiting companies do not suffer a loss by appearing there but the fact that the company seems to have misread the New York audience is the sort of thing that gets remembered by "bean counters" and can come back to haunt the people concerned. I'm not sure that the casts for the Dream in the first programme or the choice of works in the second programme are exactly enticing.

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The sum of £10,750,000 was spent on ballet in the 2013-14 season I thought that it might be interesting to try to work out where some of the money went. Fortunately Tamra Rojo has recently given an interview in which she talks about new productions and provides a couple of price tags; a full length work does not leave you any change from £1,000,000 and a new triple bill is likely to cost in the region of £500,000.I think that it is fair to assume that the cost of mounting new productions for ENB and the RB are not that different.

 

The two new full length productions at Covent Garden during the 2013-14 season could well have cost more as neither were exactly conventional stagings.The re-orchestration of the Minkus score will have added to the cost of the staging of Don Q while the Winter's Tale, although a co-production, may well have cost a lot more because it was a completely new ballet.

 

Then there is the cost of reviving works.The company has to pay for the right to perform a copyright work or in the case of the revival of a nineteenth century classic pay the director for the right to perform his or her production.The company may have to pay for the services of an authorised coach.That is certainly so in the case of the Balanchine's works. The authorised coach or a rights owner may be involved in casting the dancers or at least vetting those that have been chosen;in some cases the company will be allowed to do this itself.In some cases there may be additional costs because classically trained singers or the opera chorus are required.

 

I have no idea how much the company pays for the right to dance a Balanchine ballet or any other work for that matter.The performing arts are labour intensive and therefore expensive But when you consider that the company has ninety plus dancers who are employed on a full time basis whose salaries and on costs are included in the £10,750,000 as are the costs of the company's administrative staff, coaches, the orchestral musicians and the back stage staff who support the company and make its performances possible then the sum seems quite reasonable.

Edited by FLOSS
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Interesting about the RB not selling well in New York. When I was in New York in May the person next to me was asking about the Royal Ballet - like they had never heard of them and asked if they were worth going to see.  So maybe that is why tickets have not sold well, plus NYCB have just had a run of Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream so a duplication of ballet there - I know Ashton's is different but it's a clash all the same.

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