10 November 2009 at 4.08pm | Comment on this article
A lot of the work the Royal Opera House does with young people takes place away from the Royal Opera House building itself, in school halls and classrooms, community centres and other arts venues. But we're also keen to encourage people to come here: to explore the building and encounter first-hand what we do both on the stage and behind the scenes (since far more people work behind the scenes than in front of them!).
Last Friday we held an event called Open Up, which brought nearly 1,500 people into the building, the majority of them students. The title's pretty self-explanatory. The Royal Ballet rehearsed three different ballets in the Hamlyn Hall (our big Front of House space); there was special access to the stage rehearsal of the opera The Tsarina's Slippers on the main stage; there were participatory workshops in which you could sing and act in Carmen alongside our Jette Parker Young Artists; and everywhere you looked our craft and backstage departments were demonstrating and talking about what they do.
We do quite a lot of similar events during the course of a year but this is the biggest, since it involves all three of the performing companies (Royal Opera, Royal Ballet and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House) and so many of our staff (over a hundred of them). It's the second time we've run Open Up and the feedback from people who attended has been great. Just one comment I saw today: "It was the single most interesting half-hour I have ever spent enlarging my appreciation of ballet." Just as importantly, the feedback's been equally positive from our artists and staff, who really enjoyed having the opportunity to share their skills 'up close', and talk to people face-to-face.
Also last week I visited the YO! Opera Festival in Holland. For the best part of a week a theatre in Utrecht was teeming with young performers, directors and composers, and audiences. Just as with our own Open Up event, the atmosphere was fantastic. With those two events taking place in the same week, walking into ROH yesterday I was quite taken aback to see so many older people around!