We’ve received complaints from readers about next Saturday’s performance of La Bohème at the Royal Opera House. Here’s one:
News just in, Norman: in a reversal of policy and what was promised when tickets went on sale, the ROH seems to have decided an hour ago
that at this Saturday’s performance of La Boheme, the winner of Maestro at the Opera, the BBC’s new reality TV programme for celeb baton-faciers, will conduct Act II not at the END of the evening conducted by Semyon Bychkov, as they were promising people who rang the Box Office only this morning, and indeed tweeted earlier this pm, but now we will have to sit through Act II twice, consecutively, before the actual performance can resume. What a bloody liberty.
So what’s going on? The BBC are filming a reality series in which four celebrities compete to conduct a bit of opera. That may sound dumb, but it’s not half as dumb as Covent Garden agreeing to coach the candidates and participate in the show. Originally, as our complainant points out, the ROH specified that the Maestro contender would only enter the pit after the end of the evening’s performance. Now they’ve changed their m inds.
Act two, which lasts just 20 minutes or so, will be conducted by Semyon Bychkov. It will then be repeated by the bumptious amateur.
We asked a responsible person at the ROH what was going on. ‘We wrote today to everyone who bought tickets, telling them what was going to happen,’ he said.
What if they don’t like it? ‘We offered to arrange an alternative time for them to see Bohème.’
And what of those who can only make Saturday, but don’t want to sit through amateur night? ‘They don’t have to stay in their seats. They can take a walk outside or order a drink at the bar.’
On the house? ‘You must be joking.’
How did they get into this mess? At this point, I start to hear equivocations about late notification, they way things are in television, and so forth.
Basically, what happened is that the TV producers wanted it this way and Covent Garden gave in. Probably, the producers ran scared that the entire audience would leave at the end and they would have to film the act in an eerily empty house.
Our tip? If you’ve got a ticket, take a walk.
The Four Musketeers: Trevor Nelson, Josie Lawrence, Craig Revel Horwood and Professor Marcus du Sautoy