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Subject: "Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Manjula Patel

20-01-01, 05:33 PM (GMT)
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"Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
 
   It seems unfair that opera an artform probably less propular than Ballet gets so much funding. The Royal Opera gets more subsidy than the Royal Ballet yet in worldwide reputation the Royal Ballet stands head and shoulders over the Royal Opera. Its horrendous that the Royal Ballet is neglected by the arts board, its a whole company while the Royal Opera have to raise more money to invite expensive singers who sing one for one nite. The dancers in the Royal Ballet give so much more than these free lancing opera singers who we only see once. Im probably prejudiced but ballet as a whole, as we can see w/ Billy Elliot, the popularity of ENB tours and the fame of Darcey Bussel enjoys more mass appeal than opera.

With all this talk of making the Royal Opera House the 'Peoples House' I have to mention that Im Indian and I see more ethnicity and a more varied audience( class wise) in ballet preformances than in any of the opera ones I have been too. I hate political Correctness but when i sit in the expensive areas for the Opera preformances I get a second look, as if 'how can she afford that ticket!' and the price difference of 65pounds (the highest for RB) to 114 pounds for Opera! The 22 pound equivelent of a RB preformance is 45 pounds for opera!

And Opera gets more funding than Ballet? God look at the figures and tell me which of the art forms is more elitest?


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Eugene Merrett 20-01-01 1
     RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Terry Amos 21-01-01 2
         RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Ann Williams 21-01-01 3
             RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Anneliese 23-01-01 12
         RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Shirley 21-01-01 9
     RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Manjula Patel 21-01-01 4
         RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? eugene merrett 21-01-01 5
             RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Eugene Merrett 21-01-01 6
                 RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Stuart Sweeney 21-01-01 7
                     RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Richard J 21-01-01 8
     RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Jim 21-01-01 10
  RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Robert 22-01-01 11
     RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Anneliese 23-01-01 13
         RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? p.s.stammers 23-01-01 14
             RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Stuart Sweeney 23-01-01 15
                 RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet??? Eugene Merrett 23-01-01 16

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Eugene Merrett

20-01-01, 09:03 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #0
 
   I am not sure that it is true that opera gets more funding then ballet. I am told the grant to the ROH is on the requirement that both arts get the same funding.

I would dispute the arguement that ballet has a greater following then opera. Overall attendence at ballet is slightly higher then ballet on a National level. But as ballet companies are cheaper to operate there are more of them - moreover they can tour! But if you look at London - there are two major resident opera companies that do far more performances then the Royal Ballet. In New York the 4000 seat Met Opera sells out all the time. This cannot be said for ballet. I can assure that it is MUCH harder to get ticket to opera then ballet generally speaking either at London and New York (obviously Swan Lake is going to be hotter ticket then an obscure opera).

This is because opera can reach many more fans via CDs etc so the pool of potential fans are greater! Ballet is not able to reach so many people because there is no additonal then the theatre itself! And most opera goers have no problems with CD but few ballet goers will have any thing to do with videos!! I should know!

The main advantage opera has over ballet is far larger repertoire. For every big name ballet like Swan Lake there 10 operas of similar fame and greatness. In fact I am increasing frustrated by very limited ballet repertoire. I reckon there are 5 3Act ballets that can appeal to casual ballet goers and people not familiar to the art form (The 3 Tchaikovsky ballets, Romeo and Juliet and Giselle!).


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Terry Amos

21-01-01, 10:35 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #1
 
   Some of us consider that it is much more unfair for the Royal Ballet to be given a grant which is so much larger than grants to other ballet companies. I believe that the enormous and totally undeserved increase in their Arts Council grant over the past two years has been used by the Royal Ballet to pay its dancers larger salaries. You could say the dancers deserve this but so do dancers in other companies. By being forced to some extent to try to match RB salaries, the other companies are put at an even greater financial disadvantage.


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Ann Williams

21-01-01, 12:21 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #2
 
   But is it really true what Manjula claims, that the RB is 'head and shoulders' above the opera company in world fame and significance? As a ballet fan, I would like to think so, but if I was an opera fan I would surely think the exact opposite!

Can anyone give an unbiased opinion on the relative prestigiousness (if such a word exists) of the Royal's opera and ballet companies?


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Anneliese

23-01-01, 04:32 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #3
 
   I "do" both Ballet and Opera. The thing about the Royal Opera is that there isn't really a "company" - not like ENO. There is a chorus and some regular soloists and a lot of imports. And the orchestra, of course....

So, it's meaningless to talk about their relative status. We have some fine conductors of opera here - but when Haitink moves on Pappaneo won't have the same draw or clout.

With the Royal Opera, it's down to the director and the bought in stars - with the Royal Ballet it's the company and its very own principals. Having said that, the RO usually gets in pretty damn fine bought in stars!

I would say that Opera is more popular than ballet. My husband doesn't particularly enjoy either unless they're first rate, and is no lnger prepared to pay silly money for something he's not that bothered about. He feels that the repetition of words cheapens the drama in opera, and that the trite dancing cheapens the musical drama in ballet (overstatement to get the point across, OK?). I think a lot of people find ballet even more absurd than opera.

And me? I would give up everything I have to be the fattest swan in the tattiest corps in the grottiest provincial Russian theatre.


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Shirley

21-01-01, 10:13 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #2
 
   >Some of us consider that it
>is much more unfair for
>the Royal Ballet to be
>given a grant which is
>so much larger than grants
>to other ballet companies.
>I believe that the enormous
>and totally undeserved increase in
>their Arts Council grant over
>the past two years has
>been used by the Royal
>Ballet to pay its dancers
>larger salaries. You could
>say the dancers deserve this
>but so do dancers in
>other companies. By being
>forced to some extent to
>try to match RB salaries,
>the other companies are put
>at an even greater financial
>disadvantage.

I don't know exactly what salaries the dancers receive but I do know that a lot of the stage crew earn more than many of the dancers! It also costs a lot more money to live in London than elsewhere in Britain and perhaps that is taken into consideration when salaries are decided!



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Manjula Patel

21-01-01, 03:16 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #1
 
   >I am not sure that it
>is true that opera gets
>more funding then ballet.
>
This is strange as one of my friends who works in the ROH, who actually is a young opera singer (but she works in the admin side of the ROH) told me that the grant for ballet is lower than opera, and that the ROH pus in more money in Opera than in Ballet.


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eugene merrett

21-01-01, 04:48 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #4
 
   As an accountant by training I would say that it is very to really difficult to truly allocate special government grants equally to ballet or opera. There are so many joint and indivisable costs. The matter is also complicated by different ticket prices and other price differentials (opera programmes are 1 more and they drink more champaigne). More overal cash shuld be devoted to the opera production because it brings in more revenue! That does not mean that the RBallet gets less money as any extra spending on opera is recuperated by greater revenues received in retrun
The only effective alway to allocate money is to have an "internal market" where the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera "buy" the services of the House. Despite what you read in the papers about the NHS , big corporations do this very well but without some problems! However I am not sure if it is practical in a relatively small operation - the extra staff need to undertake this would offset any efficiency advantages it might have! But it would guarantee equal funding because the grant can split amoung the two companies and it is up to them as how to spend it.


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Eugene Merrett

21-01-01, 05:04 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #5
 
   Just on the point of prestege and fame of the company. The Royal Opera was arguably the best in the world in 70s 80s when conductors like Solti and C. Davies are at the helm. Whilst music standards have been maintained there is no doubt that its reputation has declined mostly due to lack of funding. It cannot afford the big singers very often. And nor can it change its productions very often. It is only matter of time before London falls out of the premier devision of opera - other companies in Europe are too well funded and our opera house is too small (here I go again)

I do not think I need to comment on the decline in the RB reputation. But to quote one distinguish US ballet commentator who saw them last time they were in the US "not amoung the world's best".

Regarding the profile of opera vs ballet - opera will always be more well known simply because composers are more well known then choreographers. Everyone has heared of Verdi, Tchaikovsy, Beethoven, Wagner, Handel, Mozart. But most people have not heared of Ashton, MacMillan, Balanchine, Petipa etc. And that is why the bankable ballets tend to ones written by well known composers (Tchaikovsky and Prokoviev). This point is in additon to the greater accessability of these works through CDs,


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Stuart Sweeney

21-01-01, 05:52 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #6
 
   From the Arts council website, funding 2000-2001 (increases in brackets):

Royal Ballet 9m (25%)
Royal Opera 11m (25%)

For comparison;

Birmingham RB 5.65m (2.5%)
ENB 4.2m (5%)
Rambert 1.4m (5%)
NBT 1.4m (5%)
ENO 12.9 (3%)
National Theatre 13.0 (6.7%)
Royal Shakespeare 9.2 (3%)

My understanding is that no explanantion was offerred for the major hike to the ROH budget in 2000-01, beyond to stop it going bankrupt.

I'm sure that Opera is more popular than ballet. When I queued for a matinee ticket for Rojo in Ondine I was 20th in the queue and first for ballet, the others ewre there for 'La Traviata in the evening at roughly twice the price.

Manjula, if you haven't tried it yet do go to Sadler's Wells. Apart from the much, much better sightlines, you do meet much nicer people (ballet.co people are exceptionally nice in either venue). Some of the RB dancers also wish that they still had a season at SW.


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Richard J

21-01-01, 06:58 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #7
 
   Eugene has identified the main issues. Opera audiences seem to be able to pay more for tickets; I go to see roughly equal amounts of opera and ballet, and notice that ballet audiences appear to contain a wider cross-section of the public (I think I have read that this has been established through market research). Let's encourage (and make it possible for) everybody to be prepared to give anything a go!

Both companies at the ROH have been through rocky times; contrast this with the 1960's (Solti at the opera, a galaxy of dancers at the ballet, with Nureyev's influence creating a stir, new work...etc). (Just before this time, the opera was nothing great in world terms).

Opera is expensive. At the ROH, the ballet company, the opera chorus, and the orchestra are salaried. Soloists for the opera are engaged on a freelance basis (at least, that's broadly how it was a few years ago - I guess it hasn't changed). Also, I remember seeing figures quoted a few years ago showing that the RO played to (on average) slightly fuller houses than the RB. Again, that may have changed. However, I believe that it might be easier to put on a more adventurous rep. for opera than ballet; if WNO brings something unusual to Bristol you have to book up early or you won't get in, but when BRB was doing programmes of Balanchine here there were lots of seats available. (We no longer see BRB, just the ENB classics). This is just a small example; are opera audiences more adventurous than ballet audiences? Will the Arts Council give ENB more money so that they don't have to keep re-cycling a few classics? Ismene Brown reported in a fairly depressing piece that the Arts Council seem to think that easily assimilated story-time stuff is innovative. Fun, perhaps, but innovative????

Does the Arts Council have an artistic soul?...........


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Jim

21-01-01, 11:39 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #1
 
  
>I would dispute the arguement that
>ballet has a greater following
>then opera.

I think I agree with this. I once asked the ROH box office what time I would have to arrive there to make sure of getting a "day" ticket to see Sylvie. I was told, "Oh, any time before 10.00am, but you'd have to get there earlier for an opera". Am I wrong in forming the impression that opera took a dramatic upturn in popularity following the Football World Cup when Luciano Pavarotti sang his famous "Nessun Dorma" signature tune for BBC television?


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Robert

22-01-01, 10:51 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #0
 
   Opera needs more money than Ballet. It is more complicated. I am sure Opera needs more money than theatre too, but The National theatre gets more funds than the ROH. As these are all subsidised theatres the size and class of the audience should not be very important. Personally I think that the National Theatre Audience looks pretty prosperous the ROH audience is much more mixed. Although there are some very rich looking people downstairs,(sometimes Labour Millionaires!) upstairs in the amphi and the slips there are plenty of people who are spending quite a chunk of their available income even though some of the seats are not that expensive.


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Anneliese

23-01-01, 04:35 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #11
 
   >Opera needs more money than Ballet.
>It is more complicated.
I would strongly contest that! It needs far less stage rehearsal time (and WHY did whoever it was say that ballet can tour but opera can't? I've never heard such rubbish on this site!) and very often far fewer performers!


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p.s.stammers

23-01-01, 04:43 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #13
 
   Welsh National Opera, ENO and Opera North are touring companies who take opera to different venues each season. Opera companies with less subsidy than RO certainly tour each year.
Pauline


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Stuart Sweeney

23-01-01, 05:41 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #14
 
   LAST EDITED ON 23-01-01 AT 05:43 PM (GMT)

The Royal Opera is not really a company in the way that the RB, Welsh Opera etc. are. They have a chorus and production staff. But the world class soloists are brought in performance by performance and they are expensive.

I agree with you Anneliese that Opera is not as complicated. When illness strikes, operatic soloists are brought in on the day who have never sung in London before to step into the breach. It don't happen in ballet!


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Eugene Merrett

23-01-01, 06:42 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Why does Opera get more funding than Ballet???"
In response to message #15
 
   The ENO does not tour at all!

All ballet companies tour but most of the big league opera companies do not tour or do so very very rarely!! The exception is the Russian opera companies and that is primarily due to the economic situation. But in the main niether La Scala, ROH and the Met - probably the three leading companies in the world do not tour!

The reason for this is
a) sets are generally more complicated - in ballet female corp dancers are the real scenary!
b) choruses of opera are often much bigger then corp de ballet. The big Verdi operas, Borus Godunov, require over 100 male chorus members
c) opera has to put on a different staging every day or not perform on alternate days in order rest voices. Niether option is very practical for touring - Ballet can perform the same work 2-3 days in a row!
d) Most important of all the orchestra has to go on tour as well - who want to the ROH with a locally recruited orchestra. Ballet companies often recruit an orchestra locally especially for international tours.

I am not saying that opera companies cannot tour but it is clearly far more expensive for opera to tour then ballet companies. The fact that many ballets are setless Balanchine stuff also helps

Ballet companies also have to tour to get a reputation - how else do they get known outside of their resident town? - but opera companies can reach audience through CDs and broadcast. Millons of people all over the world have heared the Met through the legendary Saturday afternoon broadcasts!

The same situation applies for opera singers - the big names get a reputation through CDs - so they jet around the world to each opera house where the audience will know them. But the less well known singers have to remain with the same company as they are not well known enough internationally to bring the punters in New York, London Milan etc. The trouble with ballet is that the only suitable medium is the theater and it therefore much harder to get a international reputation. I think only Sylvie Gulliem has opera star fame and can therefore jet around the world.


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