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Royal Opera House in ticketing elitism row

The UK’s Royal Opera House is facing a backlash after tickets for next year’s much-anticipated Beethoven’s Fidelio show sold out a day before going on general sale.

The show, which stars celebrated tenor Jonas Kaufmann, is set to welcome more than 13,000 people to the British home of opera in March 2020 for six nights.

Mere “hundreds” were held for general sale, which started yesterday (Thursday), after the majority were sold to members, whose membership packages range from £105 to £2,500 per year.

The season pass allows the so-called ‘Friends of Covent Garden’ access to advanced tickets for shows including the Fidelio, which cost up to £275 each, seven weeks prior to the general sale.

The famous London venue did not declare exactly how many tickets have been made available to the public, stating: “There will be hundreds of tickets available across many different price bands when public booking opens for Fidelio tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

“Following this, tickets will be available through our Friday Rush ticket scheme, which ensures members of the public have access to our most popular productions at affordable prices every week. The production will also be relayed live to 1500 cinemas across the globe on the 17 March, 500 of which will be in the UK.”

The Royal Opera House, which is subsidised by taxpayers through Arts Council England, obtains more than £25m in public funding per year.

Previously, the London theatre said it wanted to use the money to “enable as many people as possible to participate in our work.” Though the recent ticketing process has left many in industry outraged about its “elitist” nature.

John Allison, editor of Opera Magazine, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: “Ordinary opera lovers won’t be able to get near these tickets and it raises all the old questions of accessibility of opera houses and their tier schemes. After all, the taxpayer subsidises opera houses especially Covent Garden, and therefore they should be open to everyone.”

Image: Craig Morey