Opera tickets are not “expensive”

In the week when another senior journalist, this time from the BBC, has felt it necessary to raise the question of opera ticket prices (even if the interviewee’s response successfully dismissed the “expensive” label used), it is more than timely to update the price comparison previously published in November 2014.

The basic premise of the comparison is that opera tickets are sold at a range of prices, not at a single price-point. That’s something obvious to those who actually buy opera tickets, and generally obvious to those who have some notion of ticketed events – but bafflingly out of the mental grasp of leading media journalists, commentators and presenters.

There are some opera tickets which cost more than £100, but so do the top price tickets to many other comparable events and activities. Only a few hundred of those top price opera tickets are available given the small size of theatres and handful of performances of each opera, whereas tens of thousands of the top price sports and pop concert tickets are available for sale. Yet, those other activities are not routinely denigrated as “expensive”, and their participants are not forced to defend the entire sporting or cultural sector in every single mainstream media discussion – in the way that Jonas Kaufmann and Thomas Hampson have been by BBC presenters.

Certain events are far more expensive than opera, by any measure. The losing event in the previous comparison was the series of concerts performed by the Rolling Stones at the O2 Arena in 2012, where ticket prices ranged from £90 to £375. This time the new losing event is the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham, where ticket prices start at £150 and top price tickets are £715. It’s not yet known which teams will be playing in the final. If I were paying that much for an opera ticket (I wouldn’t anyway), I’d want to know in advance which opera and which performers would be on stage on the evening.

The problem is that many journalists, commentators and presenters across the whole mainstream media simply have not checked their facts about entry-prices, and make the lazy, ignorant mistake of taking the small percentage of opera tickets sold at the highest price-point to represent the full range of tickets available.

The entry-price (i.e. the cheapest ticket available for a performance or event) for opera is more or less the lowest entry-price of anything comparable. Let’s rephrase that, for all those suffering from opera-cliché syndrome: tickets are available for operas at cheaper prices than for any major cultural, sporting or tourist activity.

This October 2015 comparison looks at ticket prices for staged productions by large opera companies, in their home theatre. (Ticket prices for opera performances on tour are partly outside the control of the opera company, depending on the receiving theatre fees.) The opera data are shown in magenta.

The comparison is made with other arts performances produced mostly by large-scale or national companies, with gallery and museum special exhibitions, pop music concerts, musicals, tourist attractions, and a range of sports events and games. This is a selective list – but consistent in mainly covering productions, events and attractions which have a large number of professional performers or operational staff, or which require considerable logistic effort to prepare. All locations are in London, unless stated. Some events have a single ticket price, which is shown both in the entry- and highest-price columns.

All prices shown are for October 2015 events, unless another date is specified. The prices are for standard adult online tickets. Booking fees and venue improvement levies are included where it is not possible to opt out from paying them. It must be noted that opera houses and concert halls (and some other venues) charge the booking fee *per transaction*, regardless of how many individual performances are included in the transaction. So for example, buying a ticket for both La bohème and The Force of Destiny at English National Opera would cost from £25.75 i.e. £12 per ticket and one fee of £1.75. It must also be noted that the price ranges for many operas vary depending on the date of performance; the cost difference in top price tickets at Glyndebourne for The Cunning Little Vixen, for example, is £65 across dates in June and July 2016.

The ticket prices for all items in the comparison do not include any extras such as travel costs, food and drink, programmes (mostly), baby-sitter fees, accommodation, or clothing (£72 for a football shirt and scarf, for example) – and no, it is not normally necessary to wear any special clothing to an opera performance; even at Glyndebourne wearing black tie is effectively optional. One common, absurd accusation about opera’s supposed “inaccessibilty” is the cost of extras – which obviously apply to any event not taking place in one’s immediate home location.

The inclusion of Glyndebourne Festival Opera in the list needed some consideration. It is clearly a large-scale performing arts company, but stages productions only for a few months of the year rather than the full season, and receives (for the main festival) no public funding, which means different financial criteria apply. Its range of ticket prices is therefore not as low as the national opera companies, but omitting this from the comparison could have been considered misleading.

Classical music performers and venues should be congratulated on their efforts to attract new or younger audiences through reduced price or free tickets. Welsh National Opera offers tickets for £5 in all parts of the Millennium Centre theatre to those under 30 years. The Wigmore Hall also offers tickets for some concerts at £5, to those under 35 years. English National Opera runs a Secret Seat scheme, where a £20 ticket gives you a seat allocated a few days prior to the performance – experience suggests these are usually top price seats, representing a pot-luck saving of £80 or so. English National Opera also has substantial discounts for people under 30 years, as well as discounts when tickets for several operas are booked in one go. The Philharmonia Orchestra has a series of short contemporary music concerts (Music of Today) where all tickets are free. And for some concerts, the Wigmore Hall also offers free tickets to people under 25 years old.

That seems to represent a sensible use of public subsidy, though a full discussion of arts funding (or lack thereof, in the UK’s case) lies outside this particular blog post. It is worth stating however, that the question of public subsidy for the performing arts cannot be addressed in isolation. There needs to be full transparency from the UK football businesses (the correct terms for clubs) regarding the hidden state and local subsidies they receive through infrastructure, services and especially for police costs. When taxpayers’ money is used to enhance the cultural life of the nation, confused libertarians and philistine far-right commentators in certain newspapers consider it a scandal – the real scandal is that it is accepted and deemed an essential requirement for taxpayers’ money to be used to prevent attendees at a game from fighting each other, assaulting bystanders or vandalising property. The other scandal is that, in a multi-billion pound business, the football companies do not pay a living wage to ground staff, and expect government to fund grassroots football facilities and training – yet still charge ticket prices that should be routinely termed expensive as a cost-yardstick far and wide, and levelled as a daily accusation against every professional footballer in all media appearances.

The data shown is taken from website of the respective organisations. If anyone would like to use the ticket-price comparison table in their own blog or publication, I’d be grateful for a credit and a link to this blog post. In turn, I should credit @boulezian on Twitter for drawing to my attention the BBC interview with Jonas Kaufmann broadcast on 16 October 2015, and who, unwittingly, provided a couple of ideas on which I have expanded above. The first table is sorted by descending entry-price cost, the second by descending highest cost.

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Postscript – 19 October 2015

The above is now an updated version of this post, following the welcome attention the original received across social media in the 24 hours since it was first published (4,500 views and rising steadily). I’m grateful to everyone who has retweeted, reblogged, or otherwise reposted it, and for all the comments received.

First, the tone of the original opening paragraph was unhelpful, even though I was expressing the deep frustration felt by many people about the mainstream media’s persistent confusion over the cost of opera tickets. The journalist whose interview stimulated this post may have felt misrepresented; though, given I had sent the original link to him, it would have been useful if his reply had been made direct to me rather than through third-parties. I hope the paragraph is now fairer; it was not my intention to pick on an individual and I’m obviously sorry if that’s how it was received.

Second, I have updated the tables following a couple of suggestions from readers. In come the UK Formula 1 Grand Prix ticket prices, and the entry-price for operas at Glyndebourne is amended (the correct figure is £10 not £40). A couple of small changes were made to the text as a consequence. If any of the organisations cited need further corrections to the data I’ll obviously do so swiftly.

Otherwise, I don’t plan to revisit this topic again unless circumstances change significantly; the point has been made quite clearly to most, but sadly not all, readers.

One last word though: obviously I recognise that there is plenty of media commentary and debate on the cost of football and other sports tickets in general, and the Rugby World Cup tickets in particular. Many keen sports fans are priced out or rightly feel that tickets are poor value. I’m not suggesting that the “expensive” label has been applied uniquely to opera tickets, nor is this a slanging match with the sports world. The annoyance is that many in the mainstream media fail to acknowledge the existence of the cheaper opera tickets or that opera tickets have a range of prices, and show no understanding that the entry-price to opera performances is lower than most comparable activities. The “expensive” label is used routinely and gratuitously; worse, it becomes a pernicious accusation about the value of opera and everyone involved with performing it. I’m not sure anything else of such value is subject to a similar uninformed attack, and it is well past the time for journalists, presenters and commentators to drop the cliché for good. When every mainstream media discussion of opera starts with the comment “isn’t it good that opera tickets are so cheap”, or “live opera really is better value for so little money than any other activity”, then we can finally lay this nonsense to rest.

Not enough opera

As the 2015-16 London opera season starts up, and before we run into the usual ignorant comments about ticket prices, it’s useful to address some different questions of accessibility: that there are too few opera performances, of too little repertory.

To start, let’s look back earlier this year at one unusual week, when a remarkable amount of opera was being performed in a few days.

Taking the week in London from 7th to 13th March 2015, there were opening nights of new productions (or one-off concert performances) of The Siege of Calais, Alice in Wonderland, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Semele, The Wild Man of the West, The Rake’s Progress, La bohème and Duke Bluebeard’s Castle; and further performances in their runs of The Mastersingers, Madama Butterfly, Die Zauberflöte, The Indian Queen, La Traviata, I pazzi per progetto and The Dancing Master – 15 individual productions in total, and with multiple further nights taken into account, a splendid total of 28 opera performances in seven days.

Butterfly, La bohème and La Traviata apart, it was also a good week for unfamiliar repertory, a trend continued over the next weeks with performances of Catone in Utica, Giove in Argo, The Dragon of Wantley, and Adriano in Siria. (Admittedly several of the unusual works were staged in the smallest available theatres.) The quantity of performances and choice of works felt energising and exciting, as if opera had become a genuinely popular activity and, odd as it may sound, normal.

These 28 performances provided roughly 50,000 opera-seats in the week (i.e. number of theatre seats, multiplied by number of performances, summed across all the venues involved), whereas the weekly average for the 2014-2015 season was a much lower 18,000 opera-seats. The data used for these statistics is somewhat generalised – but the important point is that, for a few days, London had nearly three times its average availability of opera-seats.

As expected, that week went uncelebrated by the mainstream media, who are unable to move on from losing the argument over the cost of opera tickets, and continue to give a distorted (though thankfully limited) impression of what live opera is all about.

But, although these opera performances were spread across 8 theatres/halls, another 2 theatres (not in use that week) are frequently used to stage opera, and maybe a further 10 London venues are used sporadically (giving 20 opera venues in total), obviously only 2 theatres out of these 20 venues are staging opera productions regularly across the whole year.

For comparison, looking at spoken theatre/musicals, London has 241 theatres at over 200 sites, and attendance figures indicate that at least 423,000 theatre-seats are available on average per week – the actual capacity could be even higher. As for cinema, London’s 850 screens at 158 sites regularly have multiple screenings of films each day, so there are at a minimum some 812,000 cinema-seats available in an average week. Many of those theatres and most of those cinemas are open to audiences almost every day of the year.

As mentioned already, it was not only the opera-seat availability that week that was unusual, but also the number of works performed. Typically, London sees around 120 individual operas performed in a year, and even though the average of 2.3 per week is misleading because of seasonal skews, it still makes that particular week exceptional with 15 individual works.

But again, London has probably in excess of 1,000 individual spoken plays/musicals performed each year, and given that London’s cinemas show roughly 200 individual films per week it’s not unreasonable to assume that there could be 4,000 individual films shown in a year.

Factor in that many of the 28 opera performances we started with had been sold out for months (which is also the case for certain other productions throughout the year), and the availability of tickets (especially the cheapest ones) reduces still further for the casual opera-goer – some of whom have a genuine argument that they lose interest when unable to attend a performance at reasonable short-notice or in response to good reviews. As a consequence, they stop trying to look at any opera performance, and often the availability of opera-seats simply goes unnoticed.

Except for a handful of star-cast productions in the theatre, it is generally possible to buy tickets (including at the cheapest prices) during the run of a play. Accessibility in this sense is never an issue, and it is really quite easy for most Londoners to develop and sustain a spoken-theatre-going habit.

Further, given that in recent seasons the opera repertory has been skewed in parts towards a handful of frequently performed works or composers, with major works and composers entirely absent, there’s sometimes an impression that opera houses are museums of C19th Italy, rather than theatres that have a serious dramatic purpose – even if that is not their best intention. There is obviously plenty of other repertory staged, including a fair (but not excellent) range of C21st and world premiere productions, but those are often subject to the advance-sell out or small theatre capacity problems to be generally accessible. Contrariwise, it would be hard to justify any argument that London’s theatre and cinema repertory is not wide enough.

Broadening the opera-seat comparison to Berlin, Paris and Vienna, there is a not dissimilar weekly average availability of 20,000, 14,000 and 22,000 respectively. But those cities are quite different in population to the greater London region. The easiest measure for comparison is to look at how many people in each city could attend just one performance per year. Paris fares worst at just under 9% of the adult population, London next worst at just over 9%, Berlin a more respectable 24%, and Vienna leads the provision of opera with 55% of the population able to attend one opera performance each year.

But one event a year, however special, is hardly “normal” for most cultural or sporting activities – at least in a large capital city (for this post leaving aside the issue of minimal or zero provision of opera in many places outside the capital). Attending 12 opera performances a year would seem a minimum reasonable normal amount, and the percentage of the four cities’ population able to do that is 0.7% for Paris, 0.8% for London, 2% for Berlin and over 4.5% for Vienna. Paris and Berlin certainly are understated in this comparison, as it’s hard to assemble performance and capacity numbers for the smaller and seasonal companies – instinct says that London actually has the lowest opera-seat provision relative to population. A question for the Arts Council, the UK government Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and London’s Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, Munira Mirza, is, how can they justify that London lags behind competitor capitals in Europe in the provision of such a major art form?

If that remarkable week in london were consistent through most of the year, opera in one sense would be less exclusive quite simply because it could be part of a normal theatre-going activity, and the repertory broad enough for people to try unknown works just as they do in the spoken theatre – safe in the knowledge that if they don’t like the work or the production, another one will be along the following week that they might enjoy.

But of course, what we see currently is the opposite in availability. Through a malicious and vindictive cut in their Arts Council funding, English National Opera have been forced to reduce their offering, from 15 productions and 158 performances in 2014-2015, to 11 productions and under 100 performances in 2015-2016. That means a loss to London of nearly 150,000 opera-seats in the year, or on average nearly 3,000 opera-seats a week. The impact is on repertory as well, with a withdrawal into “safer” works, however imaginatively they are marketed.

This reduction in accessibility makes opera literally more exclusive, as fewer and fewer people can attend live staged performances – an activity which has to be the heart not just of an opera-loving habit, but of a thriving art form and of the serious provision of culture in a capital city. The second question for the Arts Council, DCMS and the Deputy Mayor is, do you really want to exclude 99% of London’s population from regularly seeing a live art form?

Three simple things to wish for, in the opera discourse. 1/3

Probably almost everyone with a social media feed that includes any of the UK’s publicly-funded opera companies has been aware of the Inside Opera event on 10th May, a live webcast covering activity and events in seven opera companies across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The main intent was to help encourage new, younger audiences to experience their first live opera, by de-mystifying what is involved in producing an opera in a theatre, and showing the passion and commitment that performing artists, theatre crews, and opera workers bring to this art form. The mystery to regular opera goers is why anyone should find attending an opera performance difficult or challenging, even when it is for the first time in one’s life.

But you don’t need me to remind you that, in the UK at least, the general level of discourse about opera, and classical music, is appallingly uninformed and limited, and would be considered a national disgrace if it were similarly the case for discussions about books, sport or politics. Worse, many people – not just lazy journalists and broadcasters, but also lazy philistines and puritans – have an absurd level of prejudice against opera, fed by unquestioned myths they assert repeatedly and incessantly. A paraphrase of the response given by the Royal Opera’s Kasper Holten, when asked during Inside Opera about rivalry with English National Opera down the road, is: “it’s not opera company versus opera company, but opera companies versus the world”. Hardly surprising that newcomers are put off even a first attempt to visit a performance.

Inside Opera won’t have revolutionised things in just 4 hours, but it gave opera the feel of excitement that surrounds other live, national events. If this collaboration between the seven companies can be repeated and extended – and broadcast on freeview television rather than as a webcast – then maybe some people will be drawn into making a more informed and less harmful contribution to the discussions.

What are some basic essentials for a better discourse about opera? Three simple things are my preoccupation: ticket prices, production type, music theory. The first two dominate most current discussions and drive out any more pertinent artistic and critical contributions, the absence of the last is the elephant in the room. There are many ways to change a discourse, but I worry that we will never make any progress without a concerted and unflinching effort to address all three things.

1. Ticket costs

I rarely swear in public, but when anyone who has never been to an opera performance starts to tell me authoritatively about “opera tickets costing a lot” they end up regretting it, at length. Friendships have been lost, crockery smashed, airplanes diverted; I haven’t yet started wars or invaded the offenders’ homelands, but if I had access to the UN Security Council, its members would right now be debating how best to apply sanctions to anyone repeating this myth.

The worst recent example, from Simon Kelner, a former editor-in-chief of the Independent, in a pointless article about fine dining and celebrities, may not have been aimed just at ticket prices, but wins every prize for ‘the gratuitous use of the word “opera” in a non-related context’. On re-reading the article, the stupidity of the penultimate sentence still brings the neighbours knocking on the door to check if all’s well, given the shouting and screaming triggered by its offensiveness.

Just as stupid, was the remark in Catherine Bennett’s incomprehensible response to the BBC announcement in March 2014 of plans for increased arts coverage that, the Royal Opera House is “subsidised but stratospherically inaccessible”. The facts are otherwise, but why bother with such detail when you merely want to insult?

The BBC itself is sadly not free from this sort of nonsense, but given the immense decline in its editorial and cultural standards imposed by malign political influence from the 1980s onwards, one has low expectations that are frequently met. You’re probably only too familiar with the bizarre opening remarks from Sarah Montague which set the tone for the whole HARDtalk embarrassment: thankfully, many leading opera professionals complained publicly about the inaccuracies. And tweeting in a personal capacity, Sangita Myska, a prominent BBC news and current affairs journalist, recently asserted that “many of our arts venues are still too expensive … for ordinary folk”.

Patronising, as well as wrong.

The repetition of such ignorance is both pernicious and pervasive: in a discussion, ok, row, on the Katherine Jenkins affair [the elite don’t want you to hear opera, but I’m happy to charge £99 a ticket to sing for you at an ‘exclusive’ concert], a person kept insisting to me that, cheap opera tickets literally (and I use that word deliberately, as this was the other person’s clear meaning) do not exist, because the London-dwelling middle classes buy them all. Baffling logic, and never mind that on the very same day the English National Opera website clearly showed the existence and availability of £5 tickets for performances of The Thebans; according to that other person, these do not “exist”. Schrödinger’s cat would be falling out of its box with laughter.

Seemingly, it is beyond the ken of many intelligent commentators and public figures to understand that tickets for operas have a range of prices, rather than just an upper value. I prefer always to talk about the “entry price” for an event, i.e. the minimum cost for which one can be present. Yes one can pay more, and consequently may well have a better experience of the event – which is for a different discussion – but there is no requirement to do so for entry.

Let’s look at some numbers. I have taken a current (or the most recent/next forthcoming) production at each of the seven opera companies participating in Inside Opera. A comparison is made with the entry price to other arts and music venues, cultural, heritage and tourist sites, sporting events, and a night on the town; all but two are current or near-future ticket prices. It’s not a perfect survey – but then those maligning the cost of opera tickets have never been the least bit bothered about accuracy, or facts, at all.

Rolling Stones, O2 Arena (2012) £90
“Clubs and drugs” night out, east/south London £60
The Libertines, BST Hyde Park £55
Lovebox 1-day ticket, Victoria Park £55
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo £49
FA Cup Final 17 May, Wembley Stadium £45
One Direction, Wembley Stadium £43
Chelsea Football Club, home match £41
Singin’ in the Rain, Grand Opera House Belfast £36.50
Buckingham Palace, state rooms, mews and gallery £35.75
London Eye, Southbank £26.55
The Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty’s Theatre £25
The view from the Shard, Southwark £24.95
London Comedy Store, Picadilly £23.50
London Zoo, Regent’s Park £23
Tower of London, City of London £20.90
Wicked, Kings Theatre Glasgow £20
Godzilla, Odeon Leicester Square £18.50
Macbeth, Northern Ireland Opera, Grand Opera House Belfast (Feb 2014) £18
Vikings, British Museum £16.50
Matisse, Tate Modern £16.30
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Gielgud Theatre £15
King Lear, National Theatre £15
La Bohème, Opera North, Leeds Grand Theatre £15
War Horse, Wales Millennium Centre £15
West Side Story, Leeds Grand Theatre £15
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew £15
Fashion World of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Barbican Gallery £14.50
Veronese, National Gallery £14
Italian Fashion, Victoria and Albert Museum £13.50
Madama Butterfly, Scottish Opera, Theatre Royal Glasgow £11
Life on the Moon, English Touring Opera, Hackney Empire £10
Moses und Aron, Welsh National Opera, Wales Millennium Centre £10 (or a generous £5 for those under 30)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Dutoit, Royal Festival Hall Southbank Centre £10
The Thebans, English National Opera, Coliseum £10
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Queen Elizabeth Hall Southbank Centre £9
Tosca, Royal Opera, ROH Covent Garden £9

The entry prices for the opera performances are grouped mostly at the bottom of the list. The cheapest end. Along with the classical music concerts. The entry price for nearly everything else is more expensive.

You can see why I am angry.

Of course, these entry prices don’t include travel to the event’s location, a programme, victuals, the comparative events and venues are London-centric, often there are booking fees involved – though the marginal costs apply just as much to the non-opera ticket costs in the list as to the operas. But equally, some of the opera entry prices listed can be reduced in cost through subscription schemes, concessions, and other offers. I’m not claiming this is a comprehensive survey or has a definitive price-parity methodology. I have plenty of ideas to extend the study, and would welcome any constructive suggestions to improve these comparisons.

One objection to that list would be that events/venues with single-price point tickets are mixed with those which offer a range of ticket prices above the entry cost. For example, it only costs £35.75 to visit Buckingham Palace, whereas some stalls seats for Tosca at the Royal Opera House cost £195. That still doesn’t disprove the basic point, that the entry cost to opera is cheaper than for most rival events and venues.

Obviously, some people can afford to pay more than the entry price, and do; those stalls tickets at the Royal Opera are frequently sold out. As already mentioned, the correctness of allowing such a price differential is an argument for elsewhere. But still, as Kasper Holten reminds us in his response to Catherine Bennett’s misrepresentation of ticket prices, 50% of tickets at the Royal Opera House are sold at £55 or less. And if we are talking about the top-end costs, let’s revisit the multi-price point items on the list:

Rolling Stones, O2 Arena (2012) £375
Tosca, Royal Opera, ROH Covent Garden £195
One Direction, Wembley Stadium £149
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo £135
FA Cup Final 17 May, Wembley Stadium £115
The Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty’s Theatre £115
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Gielgud Theatre £85
Madama Butterfly, Scottish Opera, Theatre Royal Glasgow £74
Wicked, Kings Theatre Glasgow £72.50
The Thebans, English National Opera, Coliseum £60
War Horse, Wales Millennium Centre £60
King Lear, National Theatre £50
La Bohème, Opera North, Leeds Grand Theatre £49.50
Singin’ in the Rain, Grand Opera House Belfast £49.50
West Side Story, Leeds Grand Theatre £46
Macbeth, Northern Ireland Opera, Grand Opera House Belfast (Feb 2014) £40
Moses und Aron, Welsh National Opera, Wales Millennium Centre £40
Life on the Moon, English Touring Opera, Hackney Empire £33

So, with the exception of a few seats at the Royal Opera, you can see that the cost of a top-price opera ticket is still less than or comparable to that of top-price tickets at most other events, which are also frequently sold-out.

If you want to start lecturing me about the ethics of a publicly-funded institution such as the Royal Opera charging some high ticket prices, then we can also address the hidden public funding of football clubs and match fixtures – millions of pounds over many years, only recently reduced by the clubs taking on the payment for the police costs required to stop match attendees from fighting each other (and assaulting bystanders) in the streets. And you can tell me which you think is the more justifiable use of public money. I’m fairly sure that the football club shareholders have not paid back the policing cost for prior years out of their profits. In any case, the correct argument about public subsidy is actually that if some opera ticket prices are too high, then the subsidy is simply far too low.

The item missing from the list is the cost of a season ticket to a Premiership football club. It appears that at the local club the top-price season tickets require a commitment in advance for four years, at £5,000 per annum – a £20,000 upfront payment. The average cost per match may work out at £150 or so, but how many “ordinary folk” can afford that size of upfront payment for a non-essential activity? In football-specific discussions there is obviously concern and outrage at those high prices, but the prices are not used as an everyday figure of hate in common discourse as are those very few tickets at the Royal Opera.

If the uninformed and the ignorant continue to peddle misinformation and hatred about opera ticket costs, then they should be met with well-deserved contempt and shouted down.


Next up:

2. Regie rules.
3. The joys of harmony.