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Debate: What do you think of opera and ballet in cinemas?

We'd like to hear your thoughts on the growing silver screen trend.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

23 May 2013 at 3.41pm | 85 Comments

Over the past few years, the trend of experiencing the arts through cinema has exploded. Opera and ballet companies have experienced huge success through live relays, as have the National Theatre and the National Gallery. 'Alternative cinema', as the trend has been dubbed, is now worth £12.5 million in the UK alone. Our own cinema relays have proved popular with audiences around the world with Royal Opera and Royal Ballet productions enjoyed by tens of thousands around the globe each month in over 35 countries. The transmissions compete with Hollywood studio blockbusters too - The Nutcracker came second in the box office charts, beating Skyfall on the day of transmission and coming second only to The Hobbit.

Cinema audiences get a little extra too, with behind the scenes films during intervals giving a glimpse at what it takes to put the works on stage. These are uploaded to our YouTube channel after the event.

We're interested to hear your thoughts about opera and ballet in cinemas.
Are they an invaluable way of experiencing the art forms closer to home, or do you think that they pale in comparison with seeing the works at Covent Garden?

Whatever your views, share them via the comments below.

Here are a few comments from our Twitter following:

The Royal Opera's La donna del lago will be relayed live to cinemas around the world on Monday 27 May. Find your nearest cinema

The Royal Opera House Cinema Season is supported by the Bank of America.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

23 May 2013 at 3.41pm

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged alternative, art, arts, audience, by John Fulljames, cinema, debate, Film, filmed, Hollywood, La donna del lago, live, movies, popcorn, Production, relay, screening, theater

This article has 85 comments

  1. Karen King responded on 23 May 2013 at 5:18pm Reply

    We have been to several National Theatre Live events and saw Nutcracker & Alice in Wonderland not only did we absolutely love it, it was great to hear such positive comments from the people around us. The one thing I think could be improved on is the programmes that the cinemas are able to print off. I would be willing to pay for a better programme

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 23 May 2013 at 5:19pm

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your comment and glad you enjoy the relays - the print material is something we're looking at developing in the future.

      Digital Content Producer

  2. Jen responded on 23 May 2013 at 5:40pm Reply

    I think it's a really good thing that it's being broadcast. It might not be as good as live but it's still seeing some of the best dancers in the world perform. It'd be lovely if we could get the dvds afterwards but I'm just glad I can get to see performances I never would've seen otherwise.

  3. Being able to hear and see opera at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse is fantastic. Whether it's a relay from ROH, the Met or wherever it's an absolute God-send.
    It's a VERY happy fall-back when you miss out on hard-to-get tickets in London or you don't have a chance to get to New York.
    Ballet on the screen is always more of a challenge when you need to see the whole body and the camera's instinct is to show faces and the upper body. Still better than seeing nothing.
    Keep on keeping on with this fantastic option.

  4. Rosemary McDonald responded on 23 May 2013 at 6:02pm Reply

    Whilst I am able to come up to London and enjoy live opera and this is clearly preferable, I also enjoy very much organising a group of friends (up to eight in number sometimes) who are not so able, either financially or physically to go to live opera. Cinema performances make opera and ballet so much more accessible. We just love it,More please!

  5. Donna Bernhardi responded on 23 May 2013 at 8:40pm Reply

    I enjoyed your live screening at Trafalgar Sq with some friends on a picnic blanket with good wine. Especially enjoyed the snippets of back stage at break time and also the staff from ROH who went around the crowd interviewing and dressing them up. Nothing of course compares to the live performance at the Opera House as you cannot compare live with a 2d version on a screen but this is a very enjoyable outside alternative in the summer. Well done! great idea.

  6. I've really enjoyed the productions I've seen at Clapham and Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, perhaps even more than going to Covent Garden itself, because the view is uninterrupted, the seat is much more comfortable and we get the behind-the-scenes commentary during the interval which is always fascinating.

    • Laura Farrell responded on 28 May 2013 at 2:13pm

      Thats a good point about comfortable seating: its amazing how many houses have seating that is really uncomfortable. The box seating in the Met in New York is the worst, alright for a 2-3 hour show but awful for a 4-5 hour marathon.

  7. I agree with the above comment about needing to see the whole body in ballet to get the line as intended by the choreographer. Close close-ups are annoying. I don't want to see the sweat pouring off the dancers. I do enjoy the live relays - they are a different experience to being at the ROH but you can't beat actually being at the Opera House. Living in Dorset we can't get to Covent Garden as often as we'd like so live relays are an extra treat for us.

  8. Terry Carch responded on 24 May 2013 at 6:26am Reply

    I live in the United States and can`t afford to travel to London to see the Royal Ballet inperson due to disablities and fiancial constraints. Seeing the Royal Ballet on movie video while not as good as inperson would be great,besides you don`t have to get all dressed up and travel long distances just to go the the ballet.

  9. Edmund Hobley responded on 24 May 2013 at 12:48pm Reply

    Live Cinema broadcasts are the best thing that has happened in the arts world in the last few years. I attend Covent Garden a lot but also enjoy watching live performances in the cinema. Its great seeing the close-ups. I have no interest in the prerecorded cinema broadcasts. So please can we have as many live broadcasts as you can afford, the more the better.

  10. Stephen Cutler responded on 24 May 2013 at 2:10pm Reply

    I go to the ROH for opera several times a month, but I try never to miss the live cinema broadcasts. They are an addition to what I see in the House, not a substitute. There is no substitute for live voices, but the cinema allows a close up view which is impossible even from the seats nearest the stage. Live is important. If they are not live, I can just buy a DVD. Technically, the ROH broadcasts are better than those from the Met. The picture is crisper and the sound is not compressed. The only thing I don't like about them is the instant tweets that come on the screen at the end. I think that's silly and gimmicky.

    • Edmund Hobley responded on 24 May 2013 at 4:20pm

      I totally agree with Mr Culter, I hate the instant tweets they spoil the whole experience

    • Alison Rix responded on 24 May 2013 at 9:11pm

      Mr.Cutler has hit the nail on the head!

  11. Richard Cresswell responded on 24 May 2013 at 4:49pm Reply

    I go to the ROH regularly to see opera and ballet.I also try not to miss the live broadcasts.Live broadcast of opera in the cinema is one of the most exciting things to happen in the arts world.
    Often filmed live performances give a different perspective on the performance...close ups etc.
    Live is very important...why go if not live?
    Just buy the DVD!

  12. Andrzej Rzepczynski responded on 24 May 2013 at 5:35pm Reply

    Live Cinema is great when it is live - it adds that extra thrill watching a live performace - even on a screen. With BBC TV's retreat from live opera relays this is the way forward. Have enjoyed all relays of new productions from the ROH, but would also love to see some classic ones with new singers. Not always can one get inside the opera house, but it is easy to get into the cinema, and at affordable price. So please continue this good job.

  13. Pat Dixon responded on 24 May 2013 at 6:45pm Reply

    I love the live transmissions. I am a ballet fan and I have been to most of the live ballet transmissions since they started. I have taken friends who are either new to ballet or do not go habitually, and they are now regular attenders. It's not the same as actually being there as nothing beats the atmosphere of the packed ROH just before the lights go down, but living in Somerset a visit to Covent Garden is an expensive outing especially to an evening performance which may involve a night in a hotel

    The quality of the transmissions to our local Odeon has been excellent and the 'house' is almost always full to the brim. By and large the audience observe the same courtesies as one might hope for in a live performance ie no mobiles, no talking etc but some people still seem incapable of arriving in time. Sometimes there are cast sheets, sometimes not. I should like this to be consistent

    Why is the Ashton triple bill on 15 July being shown at so few cinemas by the way, and it seems not at the Odeon chain? It's a long way for us to go to a big screen showing and our town boasts only one cinema, an Odeon

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 25 May 2013 at 8:57am

      Hi Pat,

      Thanks for you're comment. We're striving to ensure that cast sheets are available at all locations.

      In regards to the Ashton Mixed Programme, this is not a live relay and certain distributors prefer to opt only for live. This may be why it's not at the Odeon near you.


      Digital Content Producer

  14. Chandra responded on 24 May 2013 at 7:50pm Reply

    I, for one, love it, and am so grateful to anyone who makes this experience available. Those fortunate enough to attend performances in house may think differently, but there are those like myself who do not have art and entertainment so near to home.
    I live five hours from the nearest major dance company, and I happily drove two hours each way to see the Royal Ballet in cinema. I was hugely disappointed that there were no showings of Alice, Swan Lake, or The Nutcracker in the US this year. I would very much enjoy going again, and would love to see more variety than just the classics - maybe some of the triple bills. Please continue the live cinema showings of the ballet, and give as wide a distribution as possible!

  15. Chandra responded on 24 May 2013 at 7:55pm Reply

    Oh, and DVDs of the performances would be fantastic, too! The behind the scenes clips give greater understanding and depth to the experience, especially for children and newcomers.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 27 May 2013 at 7:25pm

      Hi Chandra,

      Thanks for your comments and glad you enjoy the relays. We regularly add venues so do keep an eye on our site. It's also worth saying that more ballet broadcasts are planned for the 2013/14 Season.

      In regards to DVDs, these are available from our online shop and many of our behind the scenes films from cinema relay (and online exclusives) are available via YouTube. Do subscribe to ensure you don't miss out on any.


      Digital Content Producer

  16. Clara Hayes responded on 24 May 2013 at 7:57pm Reply

    I hope sincerely that the ROH and the Met continue to broadcast operas via HD cinema, and expand and develop where apt/ called for. It has made opera and ballet available to so many! I'd like to think that the cinema takings feed back more than adequately to supplement box office takings in the theatres themselves, but if the time came that hardly anyone turned up in the theatres (after all the seats are more expensive) that would sadden me a lot.

  17. Pat Dixon responded on 25 May 2013 at 10:41am Reply

    Just to thank Chris for responding to my comments above and for solving the mystery of why the Odeon is not apparently showing the Ashton triple bill. I shall have to order a DVD when it is released later in the year

    I forget to say that I too find the tweets showing on the screen during intervals really unnecessary and annoying. They often state the obvious to my mind

    I do not see any evidence that the live transmissions have an effect on actual attendances at ROH. I suspect that many people, like me, go when, or if, they can while those who live near and can afford it continue to attend in person, supplemented of course by visitors from abroad

  18. Opera on the cinema is a profane "confusion of the arts" (Greenberg) and effects a move from the criterion of liveness, embodiment, and presence which are characteristic of opera. There are many good utilitarian reasons why opera on the cinema is a good thing (increased revenue, openness to poorer audiences, and democratization of the arts etc) but these are fundamentally flawed reasons of utility and have no consideration for opera as an art form, as a distinct aesthetic medium. The best analogy I can make is this: opera on the cinema is like celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass on television: both fail because what is intrinsic to both (aesthetic presence in the former; divine presence in the latter) is lost through mediation and the individual is moved from "involvement in the drama of the presence" to a passive spectator sat behind a screen. The irony is that opera on the cinema is actually a slap in the face to poorer audiences because it feigns to give them what is actually something entirely different: cheap tickets for students and the unwaged like the National Theatre is the way to go!

    • Jen responded on 27 May 2013 at 12:22am

      The ROH could be giving the tickets away free and I would still struggle to be able to see a performance due to travel costs and other commitments. Of course live is better but if we follow your logic then dvds shouldn't be released either, which would be a crying shame for those of us not fortunate enough to see certain performers live.

    • Laura Farrell responded on 28 May 2013 at 2:23pm

      I don't really think you're any more involved if you are sitting there than if you are watching remotely. Performers, in any case, can probably only see the front couple of rows because of the lighting. Watching live on a broadcast really just means the camera or microphone mediates where you focus - thats all I found. In fairness, until this year, I'd never been to a performance on anything but a pretty cheap seat - cinema/DVD definitely give you a better visual experience than an extremely restricted view seat - unless of course, the music/singing/playing is great but the production is awful - which has also happened to me (in which case having a pretty much a birds eye view made no difference whatsoever).

      My only qualm is sometimes we really don't need to see just HOW much sweat is pouring down a performers neckline.

  19. I am now a devoted fan of these broadcasts, the sound is fantastic, you don't have to travel to London (or New York) as the Met also has live broadcasts.
    I enjoy the behind the scenes filming which is something those attending live production rarely enjoy.
    Not to mention that the cost is a fraction of the price of tickets for the ROH performance.
    It brings new audiences to this art form, we have had full houses in Tunbridge Wells and Uckfield. I have also attended full houses in Buenos Aires.

  20. Hilary Abbott responded on 25 May 2013 at 6:41pm Reply

    It is wonderful for those of us who live far away from the great opera houses.

  21. Katherine Lister responded on 26 May 2013 at 12:54am Reply

    We have to use the cinema to see opera and ballet as well as National Theatre productions as we live in the Midlands and so the cost of getting to London on a regular basis is too expensive. On the whole the experience is one that we view as 'better than nothing' and we will continue to attend the cinema to see the operas and theatre productions as long as the price is reasonable.

  22. Jonathan Green responded on 27 May 2013 at 1:25pm Reply

    When done well, in other words with due regard for the medium and conventions of cinema alongside those of live opera, I think it can be tremendous. In other words it's a translation exercise. In this case the "confusion of the arts" argument above doesn't hold. It all about for me whether the translation is true to the original and doesn't dumb down with a relevant cinematic/documentary conventions. For instance I could do without the gushing interviews in the Met broadcasts - although some of the backstage insight can be great.
    Similarly, full concert performances of operas can be wonderful.
    Interestingly, it makes a big difference to me whether it is a live broadcast or not. I felt cheated recently at a showing from another house which turned out to be a recording. This must be a clue. Part of the excitement is always the liveness.
    Cinema transmissions are bound to increase, and great if it gives more life to opera. It just needs enough care and attention so as to respect the stage production.

  23. Jenny responded on 27 May 2013 at 7:11pm Reply

    I think the live screenings are fabulous. I am a serious balletomane, watching dance whenever I can, and dancing myself as a hobby, and yet I value my experiences of watching at the cinema as highly as the live performances. In fact, watching Romeo & Juliet at the cinema was one of the most intense audience experiences I have ever had. I appreciated the acting in a way that had never possible in the auditorium - I would never have seen the tears running down Juliet's (Lauren Cuthbertson's) face from my seat in the Amphitheatre, and probably not even in the stalls. I was no longer just a spectator - I felt truly involved. So, for story ballets, it's an experience that simply cannot be underrated (or in fact compared to watching in the flesh). I've not watched an abstract ballet at the cinema and wonder whether the impact would be quite as strong. Having said that, I really appreciate being able to focus in on the dancers' technique, facilitated by the close-ups, and that would be possible with both story and abstract ballet. Please please please continue to screen live ballets - the experience from the audience is truly wonderful!

  24. Screenings are excellent and the extras more than make up for not being in the theatre. We would be unable to experience most of these productions as opera in the NW is very limited.

  25. MarionH responded on 27 May 2013 at 11:20pm Reply

    Just seen Donna del Lago in the cinema this evening. Such a disappointing start as the feed was faulty and the subtitles disappeared for the first hour approximately. However, it was wonderful in the end. Glad I am going to see it live this week as well.

  26. Gill responded on 27 May 2013 at 11:37pm Reply

    I really enjoy the cinema relays, the next best thing to being able to go to the Opera House/theatre, and makes productions so much more widely available, geographically and financially, with much more comfortable seats (legroom particularly appreciated). Behind the scenes parts and judicious use of close-ups enhance the experience ; tweets do NOT. Makes one appreciate the atmosphere of being present in the opera house more than ever. Would like better advance information of which cinemas are showing what, and wider distribution.

  27. Alan Woolford responded on 27 May 2013 at 11:45pm Reply

    Just returned home from a great evening at the Esher Odeon, La Donna del Lago. Great sound and close ups and the final aria senational. Being disabled trips to London are very difficult whereas a trip to the cinema is possible and able to park right outside. Its been an excellent season of transmissions. Of course it can't beat being in the theatre

  28. Having recently seen Alice's Adventures in Wonderland on the silver screen, I am sure glad I took up the chance to do so. At the screening I attended in Melbourne, there is a sense of live theatre rules in play. This sensation is joined with a feeling of 'well how else can I see this Alice that appears everywhere, even in my twitter stream, if I don’t accept this invitation'. There is popcorn. There is chatter. But there is also anticipation in the air and no mobile illuminations on the plus.

    Thank-you. For this and others I have also seen.

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:

  29. Philip Connolly responded on 28 May 2013 at 9:43am Reply

    Broadcast is clearly a good thing. For us it's the chance to consider performances that are not high on our must see list but neverthless worth viewing.

    For Donna del Lago rather too many close-ups, which are not flattering for performers portraying roles decades younger than their ages.

    Are the performances genuinely live? I have my doubts. Why did we need subtitles for some of Joyce Didonato sections? And the tweets are just silly. If you want to read the tweets, go to Twitter. Inane text which one cannot avoid reading becomes an irritation (to this grumpy old man anyway).

    Regards, Philip Connolly

    • Mark Thackeray responded on 4 June 2013 at 7:09pm

      Hi Philip,

      Just to confirm for you, La Donna del Lago was indeed genuinely live as it happened in the auditorium. The delay between the ROH and the cinema screen is about 2-3 seconds, due to the equipment the audio, video and subtitles go through to get to the satellite and then to the screen.


      Mark Thackeray
      Broadcast Engineer, Royal Opera House

  30. Tony Deacon responded on 28 May 2013 at 10:49am Reply

    My wife and I have become great fans of opera at the cinema. La Donna del Largo last night was absolutely fantastic!
    It's a different experience to attending a live performance, but perfectly valid. We love the commentary and intro material from the artists.
    In much the same way,TV broadcasts of sport are different: you don't get quite the atmosphere, but you do get the close-up views, the replays, the expert commentary and analysis.
    We will still go to live opera as and when we can afford to, but cinema opera will allow us to see many more productions -perhaps of operas that we might not have chosen.
    If this broadens the appeal of opera to a wider audience, extends the experience of those who are already devotees and (presumably) provides additional revenues to opera houses, it must surely be win, win?

  31. Laura Farrell responded on 28 May 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

    Its very difficult to compare because on the whole you are very rarely going to be fortunate enough to see a live performance and then compare to the cinema experience. I've only managed to do this for the first time recently, and its a lot of dependencies.

    Bear in mind at a cinema, the opera house has no control over many factors - draughts, heating or lack thereof, other patrons, idiotic cinema operators etc. My local cinema, for example, is basically run by 17 year olds - who don't understand why people watch opera and who don't have great technical ability either with operating equipment. This has a lot of impact on the performance if patrons are uncomfortable or the sound is poor (generally the thickos at my cinema can get a good picture but don't have a concept of what good sound is - how would they, in fairness?)

    In contrast, I do use another cinema operator for broadcasts from other houses - and they do a slightly better job for the whole "experience" - but this is true for all of their cinematic broadcasting in general - this helps a great deal.

    Of course it is great if you can shuffle in late, eat popcorn, swig a hip flask (although I admit to having done this at performances - I'm just a bad girl).

    The big thing I noticed when I went to a production twice and then the cinematic broadcast was that you really do see on/off nights when you've seen the same thing a few times - this is normal. But what really struck me was in a detailed, pithy production like the one I went to, your eyes were drawn were YOU want them when there is no camera, not where the camera decides. This production had a particular quirk in one scene where the main action is distracted by a sideline that is not essential to the plot - this was a good piece of black humour in the house as you were more aware that your eye was being drawn away by a particular performer, but in cinema - it was less pronounced and harder to follow.

    But you do get a lot - for what is usually a fraction of the ticket price (plus costly travel - by the end of July my operatic travels will already have set me back a few thousand - lucky as I am that I can finally do this). You get to see the costumes, hear the sound, enjoy a lot of the experience. Its especially good if you find the idea of going to an opera intimidating. Even I find the notion of Glyndebourne EXTREMELY intimidating, for example, despite having been to continental plush houses. Its so much easier to show up in a sports jersey and ripped jeans, and not have to worry about stuff.

    The other thing I would add is that its great for families of performers, who may be unable to travel, and also for people who may be a little unsure of what to expect.

  32. Averill Craig responded on 28 May 2013 at 6:22pm Reply

    The ROH Operas in cinema are not available in Canada (or at least in Montreal) despite the fact that the MET opera broadcasts are shown in several cinemas throughout the city, and are extremely well attended. This is a real shame. Is there NO chance that this will change?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 29 May 2013 at 10:28am

      Hi Averill,

      This is unfortunately a decision on the part of our Canadian/North American distributor.
      Do keep an eye on our site as with the 2013/14 Season just around the corner, things may change.


      Digital Content producer

  33. Norma responded on 28 May 2013 at 6:34pm Reply

    I am a great fan of 'live' relay of both opera and theatre. I also consider that this development is long overdue. Living over 200 miles from the capital and unable to visit London very often because of the exhorbitant costs of both travel and hotels it is a undoubtedly a 'second' best choice. Nothing can compare with a live performance and the buzz in the auditorium. However all tax payers, wherever they live, are contributing to the £25 million to the ROH and £17 million to the National via the Arts Council for 2013/14 season so I suppose we should be grateful that those outside a 20 mile radius of London are being considered via the relay process.

  34. Fiona responded on 29 May 2013 at 12:13pm Reply

    I really enjoy the cinema showings especially the live relays. I had never seen an opera before and now I have seen three. Seeing La donna del lago the other night was amazing and without the cinema I would not have had the opportunity to see that. I'm just disappointed that none of the cinemas in Manchester are showing the return of Sergei Polunin in July. The nearest location I could find was Derby.

    Please keep the performances coming! I love the tweets, for what it's worth, I like to find out who else is watching around the world.

  35. chris leigh responded on 29 May 2013 at 1:23pm Reply

    Just seen the fantastic performance of La Donna del Largo at the Belmont Cinema in Aberdeen. Saves the 550 mile journey to ROH. Programmes would be useful and these performances need to be better publicised, certainly here in Aberdeen. The satellite link sometimes plays up as was the case a few weeks ago in Nabucco which was a shame. Overall its a great alternative for those who cannot get there or afford it and its probably better than live performances via ones own TV as there are less household distractions to put up with.

  36. John Rose responded on 29 May 2013 at 3:21pm Reply

    These relays are an excellent alternative to the real thing. But not as good. I've only seen Il Trittico and Nabucco on the big screen,having seen a live performance earlier.
    In Nabucco,particularly,I missed the brilliant sound,especially the upper harmonic partials: it all seemed flattened out.
    Also a simultaneous broadcast is better than a live one,which can be doctored from two or three takes.
    Still this is carping! I'm lucky to live close to London so I always like the vivid live experience before electing to see it again on screen.
    I hope you continue and refine still further this project.

  37. Ane Pretorius responded on 29 May 2013 at 9:27pm Reply

    I think opera in cinema is great! I'm from South Africa and because we rarely get the opportunity to watch operas live, it's wonderful to experience opera with the world!

  38. jcolnaghi responded on 29 May 2013 at 10:09pm Reply

    Hi, have enjoyed quite a few performances
    of opera and ballet in the cinema. An excellent outlet for this wonderful art form.
    If you are unable to travel to ROH or unable to obtain a ticket, this is the next best thing. Obviously not as good as actually being 'in house' but very experince. j colnaghi

  39. Simone Camilleri responded on 30 May 2013 at 6:24am Reply

    Although I enjoy the cinema performances, they are a poor substitute for several reasons. My main objections are the voice and the close-ups of the singers. When you have been lucky enough to hear a singer at the theatre, you realise that his/her voice sometimes has a completely different timbre in the cinema hall. I sometimes find myself looking away, as I find it quite unappetizing counting teeth in a singer's mouth! Also watching some terrible grimaces, which one would hardly detect on stage, is rather offputting. It might be a good idea if the cameras didn't go so close. The 'behind the scenes' films are a great thing. .

  40. Helen responded on 2 June 2013 at 6:23pm Reply

    I have only just found the live cinema screenings. It is excellent. My elderly father who cannot get to london anymore is loving being able to enjoy his passion without travelling. I too am becoming a rather keen enthusiast too. H

  41. Maura Gilpin responded on 3 June 2013 at 10:31am Reply

    Like many others it is not always possible to see a live performance due to long distance travel and expense of tickets. The productions I have seen in the cinema have been excellent and a very good substitute for the real thing. The relaying of La Donna del Lago last Monday was absolutely superb so much so I wanted to see it again and I was extremely fortunate to get 2 tickets (returns) to see the live performance on Friday at the ROH. What amazing singing. Cinema audiences seemed somewhat better behaved though - someone near us was rustling sweet wrappings during the live performance! Shame on them. I still cannot understand why people are unable to cope with a couple of hours without eating or drinking. When you have paid a small fortune for a ticket distractions from the audience are so intrusive and show no respect for the performers let alone other opera goers!

  42. Jenny Fleming responded on 3 June 2013 at 11:51am Reply

    Is the Opera House considering doing free online worldwide live streaming to computer of any of its performances at any time in the future? The Bayerische Staatsoper is the first opera house to do this, and we have been enjoying their live performances on our home computer screen for for the past year.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 3 June 2013 at 1:00pm

      Hi Jenny,

      This is something we're looking into. Previously we've offered a day of live streaming each from The Royal Opera and Royal Ballet. Highlights are on YouTube ( with rehearsals, interviews and glimpses into the production departments.


      Digital Content Producer

  43. Bettina responded on 3 June 2013 at 12:45pm Reply

    I agree with previous comments that these transmissions should always be live, if they are not, one is tempted to wonder whether they are being ‘enhanced’ in some way. I also most strongly agree with the negative comments about the annoying tweets at the end. I find them especially aggravating if the cinema relay is not live, as they appear to be a rather desperate attempt to give the transmission a ‘live’ appearance.

  44. I think it's great! It makes opera a lot more accessible, especially for young people and those who don't live near one of the big opera houses. It's cheaper, you don't feel any need to dress up and (most importantly) you can eat during the performance (quietly of course!). There are a lot of wonderful productions that I have only been able to see via cinema and I am always thankful that these broadcasts happen!

  45. Tim Walton responded on 6 June 2013 at 11:05pm Reply

    I recently went to my first few ROH operas at the cinema.

    I had seen the operas live earlier at the House.

    I had two different reactions. La Donna del Lago was a triumph in both cases.

    Eugene Onegin was not. I hated the ridiculous production when I saw it live & it was even more idiotic & confusing seen on the small screen.

  46. I like the live Broadcasts of Opera and Ballet in cinema. For many people, is impossible to assist to a live performance in Opera Houses for many different reasons and I also think that it's a very good way to promote the Arts to a large, different audience like the movie goers.

    Don't get me wrong, I love to assist to a live performance in an Opera House, it's a wonderful experience but I also enjoy Operas and Ballets in Cinema and television broadcasts.

    I have a huge love for Opera and Ballet and I don't care if is in a Live Performance in an Opera House or a special broadcast in television or the big Silver Screen. The important thing is, to support the Arts, both in an Opera House performance and also in a special broadcast in television or the movie theater.

    And by the way, it's interesting to see and compare the box office charts, I think that's excellent that the Operas and ballets are starting to compete against the "big" blockbuster movies!

  47. As the Trustee of a touring opera company (Mid Wales Opera - I enjoy ROH broadcasts, but worry about their impact on live opera performance. For venues such as arts centres, 'live' broadcasts are a far less risky and far more profitable proposition (50% of the ticket price goes straight to the venue) than buying in live performance and increasingly even Arts Council subsidised venues see the Met or ROH broadcasts as 'ticking the box' for opera. But as Simone Camilleri says, broadcasts, however great, do not give the same experience as hearing live performances by trained singers unmediated by any form of amplification. My worry is that broadcasts will end up displacing live opera outside a few global cities because even if people away from these cities want to experience live opera, venues won't be prepared to stage them. And this is a serious threat not just to those who love opera but who don't live in a metropolis but also to the whole of the opera world, because singers can't just progress from Conservatoires or even the National Opera Studio straight onto the stage of the ROH - they need to get experience of performing with companies like ours to develop and mature. So my challenge to the ROH is what can it do to plough back some of the massive revenues it is generating through these broadcasts to nurture smaller scale live opera (or at least free up some of its Arts Council funding to support live opera away from the capital)? And my comment to Helen and Norma is please don't assume that you can only see great live opera by travelling to London - make sure you support smaller companies which may perform nearer to you as well as the broadcasts!

    • Norma responded on 25 June 2013 at 5:12pm

      Gareth ~ have just read your comments and would like to respond. I do support 'local' opera aka WNO in Llandudno and Opera North in Leeds. I also attend RNCM young artist concerts. However, if I want to see international opera artists and productions there is no choice~ it has to be London. I agree with most of your points re Arts Council 'tick box' mentality and the concerns re:lack of regional support but regard 'live' relays as a.n.o way to participate in the arts at an acceptable cost.

  48. Personally speaking, I would prefer almost any performance to be live, face-to-face, and if possible unamplified. This includes everything from international companies to local and community operatic events There is a danger, as in theatre, that the exceptional excitement of a 'visceral experience' is exchanged for one that is merely enjoyable and routine.

  49. Jonathan Haswell responded on 24 June 2013 at 7:06pm Reply

    I have been to opera, ballet, dance, classical music, rock, pop, and jazz, and a variety of other musics in as many different ways and venues and one can imagine.
    I have experienced opera on 78s (yes), LPs, CDs, YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, on VHS, DVD, BluRay, on a car radio, standard definition TV, high definition TV, on a Big Screen in the open air, in a Greek theatre, in international opera houses, in a church hall in a remote Scottish village, in a TV gallery, and on cinema screens (good and bad).
    I have sat in the opera house with restricted view, at the top, the front, the side, and in the middle, in good acoustics and bad, hot and cold, with bad neighbours and good. Each time it has been different.
    On each occasion I have an idea about what I’m getting in advance. I don’t make a comparison between a CD and any experience live in the opera house. I enjoy each for what it is.
    In every one of these methods of consuming opera, dance, or music, I have had transcendent, good, average, bad, and terrible experiences. I have made my judgements taking into account the strengths and limitations of each. I’ve had moving experiences in Trafalgar Square, listening on LP, and sharing the same air as the singers in the opera house.
    Why compare cinema with being in the opera house? It’s just ANOTHER WAY of enjoying opera. And every time it will be different.
    The job of every artist and craftsperson involved is to convey the performance to the viewer or listener in as rich and unmediated a way as they can, so that we can enjoy the quality of the performance and respond to the art and artistry. Each person might do a good or a bad job on each occasion.
    So – cinema takes its place in the list of ways to enjoy theatre and opera, and I for one am grateful. There will be transcendent experiences and irritating ones, and I’ll be ready for each when it comes.

  50. Andy Law responded on 24 June 2013 at 9:18pm Reply

    Answer is both. A visit to ROH is splendid, but the cinema broadcasts allow those who may never have thought to see live ballet to experience it. Consider the price when visiting from one of the more distant shires, the ticket, journey, hotel, and perhaps a meal too, it adds up, especially when one's pockets may not be so very deep. The cinema is a much more possible alternative, and also consider that it is in a more relaxed setting; that is doesn't have the formality that the ROH does (which is part of your charm by the way).
    A couple of weeks ago the Mariinsky broadcast Swan Lake live. I have always wanted to visit this theatre, the home place of Makhalina, and Lopatkina. I haven't bothered to calculate the cost of the visit, but here was a way of at least some meaningful participation. (I chuckled quietly seeing some late arrivals slipping in, expecting to have missed the adverts, only to discover they are in the middle of Act 1).
    Cultural life is so important, especially in difficult times. These broadcasts permit exposure to this art form which otherwise would be missed by ordinary people, but most importantly they hopefully will increase interest in it and the ROH particularly in young people. I believe in the value the ROH brings to us, It was for this reason that I decided to join your friends scheme last week.
    See you on the 29th of July for the Bolshoi!

  51. Michael Wherly responded on 25 June 2013 at 7:07pm Reply

    I love the opportunity to see opera at affordable prices, and so close to home.
    Last night I saw my third Covernt Garden production, 'Gloriana'.
    Something went wrong for me. The first thing was that there were no subtitles. I would have found them useful for, even though I have 'Gloriana' on DVD, I don't know the whole libretto - and I use the subtitle option when I play the ENO DVD. I missed a lot.
    But, thinking of people who are coming to any opera for the first time, they're going to miss a lot more by not understanding what is sung. And even when the watchers are native speakers I'd say there is still a problem.
    The second problem was the low volume on the transmission. That may well be due to the local cinema, who maybe did not want to frighten the viewers of Vampire and Superman films out of their wits by giving the opera full throttle.
    However, all that aside, I was entranced by the production. I thought the way the whole opera was framed by festivities surrounding the Coronation worked faultlessly. Very taken by the kids doing the scene locations. I can imagine one or two youngsters telling his grandchildren, 'I was the second space' in 'Gloriana.'

  52. The Met in HD and Palace Opera and Ballet productions are brilliant for those of us in Australia where it is not really feasible to travel to Europe or the USA for each of the seasons. We get to see brilliant productions with world famous singers at a local cinema.

  53. Kay Bagon responded on 8 September 2013 at 11:18pm Reply

    I have just seen the Australian production of A Masked Ball .
    I hated the dystopian production, which was set in grey concrete pillars. The cast all wore blue numbered uniforms and masks resembling R2D2 in Star wars. The face covering restricted their voices and masked all facial expressions. It was difficult to distinguish one character from another. The confusion was then compounded by the cinema running the sub titles during the 15 minute interval and consequently being 15 minutes ahead of the action thereafter.
    A total fiasco!

  54. Glyn Conway responded on 10 September 2013 at 10:55pm Reply

    Digital screening has introduced me to Opera and I continue on a learning curve with each production I see at my locals cinema. It has been a great success.

  55. Irina responded on 12 October 2013 at 6:19am Reply

    Live is incomparably better. But you should keep in mind that there's lot of us living in the parts of the world where Kaufmann, DiDonato and Netrebko will never sing. So, the majority of us need the broadcasts if we want to see great singers at all.

  56. Lottie responded on 4 November 2013 at 5:22pm Reply

    As a student based outside of London, I do my best to get to the Opera House to see as much as possible, as Live is always best - however often money (or lack of it) means that I can't do this, so the Cinema Broadcasts are a brilliant alternative. I've also been able to introduce many of my friends to the Opera without having to go all out and pay for a ticket for the real thing. It's wonderful, and as technology advances, it will only get better and better. Obviously, seeing the real thing live is always preferable, but this isn't always possible and the Cinema is an ideal alternative.

  57. tina john responded on 12 December 2013 at 11:50pm Reply

    Just returned home from bracknell cinema after the most stunning perfomance of the nutcracker i have ever seen. A wonderfull performance by all dancers and easy for us to travel , also much easier on the purse, the audiance was delighted and enjoyed Darcys introductions ,looking forward to next production very much

  58. peter brown responded on 16 December 2013 at 10:17am Reply

    the introduction by leading dancers plus the various backstage interviews enhances the experience for those who are new to ballet and provides anew perspective for regular ballet fans. my one criticism is the overuse of close ups. ballet is about spectacle and if Petipa thought it necessary to have twenty four members of the corps on stage then I want to see them and not so many narrow shots of the lead dancers. otherwise, an excellent experience.

  59. Its great for us in Ireland .

  60. Pedro Zeitunlian responded on 30 December 2013 at 11:18pm Reply

    Adoro as apresentação no cinema e fui a quase todas aqui no Brasil .
    Estive no mês de junho em Londres e tive o prazer de assistir ao vivo (Mayerling)
    As apresentações no cinema não diminuem em nada a beleza e a surpreendente produção dos espetáculos!!
    Aguardo ansioso o inicio da nova temporada.
    São Paulo - BRASIL

  61. charles judge responded on 23 February 2014 at 1:51am Reply

    I applaud the entire concept. I have seen Royal Ballet and Met Opera in theaters, and I am looking forward to seeing my first Royal Opera TV production this week.

    I saw the 3 Mozart-DaPonte operas in person at the Royal Opera 2 years ago, and seeing the Opera House productions on the big screen here in Maryland brings back memories.

    The productions have been excellent all around, and the interviews add a lot to my experience. The audio quality is superb, and if I close my eyes, I can localize instruments in the orchestra by the stereo sound as if I was actually in the theater. Keep up the good work.

  62. Gillian D Harrold responded on 17 March 2014 at 9:26am Reply

    I love the broadcast live performances but like others I think that sometimes the close-ups of singers' tonsils detracts from the action. Likewise, why can't cameras keep a distance during ballets - on occasions a small point is missed on the wider stage because there can be too much close-up focus on dancers' expressions.

  63. Ann Forester responded on 21 March 2014 at 6:57pm Reply

    Well done to whoever thought of the 'live streaming' idea. Have seen 'Giselle' and 'Sleeping Beauty', and are due to see 'a Winter's Tale'. I took along a friend who knew nothing about ballet and had never watched one in any form! She was bowled over and is talking about seeing the real thing - exactly what you are hoping for?

    Darcy Bussell's interviews are a wonderful addition to the evening. (National Theatre has missed a trick here with their live streaming of War Horse - they need a Darcy of their own!).

    Thank you for bringing ballet to people who may not have the chance to see it, or come to the ROH.

  64. Brian Swindell responded on 30 March 2014 at 6:34pm Reply

    Have seen Giselle and Sleeping Beauty. Was disappointed with the latter because of the sound. but i have no way of knowing whether this was a cinema or ROH problem. Could only just hear Darcey and lacked the richness of the score and the ambient sounds of the ROH aaudience. The production and links etc are a bit clunky at times though they do remind one that this is live. The lighting levels and clarity are nowhere near the quality of blu-ray. Sleeping Beauty looked as if all the scenes were night scenes. Where is all the brightness and colour richness?
    I write as one for whom a visit to ROH itself will be rare because of the cost of rail fares, overnight stay,and ticket prices. So live streaming is a welcome way of being able to benefit from a subsidised art form and to see, as it were, great artist perform live. When Osipova danced, the cinema auditorium was rapt in total awe and silence. Time for the proverbial pin to be dropped. I am so glad i experienced that.
    I hope that this new medium gets rid of the glitches soon and grows in strength. And i long to hear the cinema audience clap and cheer. but the dancers/singers/musicians/actors would need to be able to hear that appreciation. Too much to ask?

  65. JR responded on 10 April 2014 at 8:42am Reply

    I do both - live shows for a treat and when I can afford it, but that is only once or twice a year so cinema great for when I can't go live, or for productions I am not sure about. I am prepared to risk a cinema ticket! For friends in Cumbria the travel + hotel + tickets would be prohibitive in cost, so they only do cinema.

    Agree with earlier comments - fewer close ups please. From the seats in ROH the dancing looks effortless - the camera reveals too often that isn't so! - and the beauty of the full set is sometimes lost

  66. Fiona Dunn responded on 2 May 2014 at 3:22pm Reply

    As I cannot travel to London any more to see the Royal Ballet live at the Opera House, these Cinema broadcasts are a wonderful way to see the recent productions, and I am thrilled beyond words that they are available. Please continue with them for as long as possible! I also love to see Darcey Bussell presenting the ballets, as I was and am a huge fan of hers, and she is a perfect person to represent the Royal Ballet, as she is well known all over the world.

  67. ACL responded on 2 May 2014 at 9:50pm Reply

    Absolutely marvellous to be able to see this standard of production. I'd never been to an opera or ballet before they were screened at the cinema and although I'd be the first to admit that I don't fully appreciate the finer points of either art form, I'm totally besotted by the shows. I find that I become completely emotionally involved with the characters, often leaving the cinema feeling thoroughly drained and loving the experience. Long may you continue to broadcast these magical nights.

  68. noel patrick responded on 12 June 2014 at 2:00pm Reply

    The cinema 'live relays' are fantastic. I have been to Covent Garden 2011 (Madam Butterfly) 2012 (La Boheme) 2013 (La Donna Del Lago) and will DV be attending again on the 18th & 20th July 2014 (Maria Stuarda & JP Young Artist Performance). These are particular treats-once a year-due to cost and distance. The opening up of major Operas and Ballets to the far flung fields (of Belfast) has been a resounding success. With a few tweeks here and there (less close-ups and a general Row F seats 14 & 15 Orchestra Stalls view of the whole stage) and it's the best you can get without actually being there. The music transmits perfectly and the atmosphere, although it will never be the same as actually being in The Royal Opera House, is nevertheless good enough for the audience to feel it was worthwhile going. The 'best in the world' standards set by The Royal Opera & The Royal Ballet should be spread as far as possible for as many as possible to enjoy. I for one have loved every moment. Keep up the good work.

  69. Michael custance responded on 28 October 2014 at 1:00pm Reply

    Please do not show tweets. Most people are not interested in remarks from one person somewhere in the world. More importantly we are engrossed in the opera, including the curtain calls. Tweets break the connection between us and the event.

  70. Julie Arnold responded on 14 December 2014 at 9:57pm Reply

    Very very disappointed Lincoln ODEON is not taking these links. We are starved of the Arts as it is in this city. I know lots of people just crying out for this sort of thing. Anything that comes here I & many others support wholeheartedly especially ballet. Your comments please.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 15 December 2014 at 12:48pm

      Hi Julie,

      Do speak to the cinema manager or contact Odeon if you'd like them to screen our productions - we'd love to have our productions relayed live to Lincoln.


      ROH Content Producer

  71. It is a bad idea. Opera and Ballets are to be enjoyed in 'live' performance as that is when you truly get the essence of the performance and truly appreciate things. I guess on screen version is a cheaper version to entertain masses that do not live nearby opera houses. I would personally do no such thing, ever! Opera and ballet is not a 'popcorn' material.

  72. Stevie responded on 15 June 2018 at 10:02am Reply

    I had expected this thread to be closed by now, but then up pops M.A., 4 years late, with his 'bad idea' theory. Cinema streaming does not prevent you going to a live performance and we go regularly, whenever we can. We also go to all the live streaming and have never yet seen anyone eating popcorn. You need to experience this option in order make valid comment and since M.A. states that ' would never do such a thing' hardly qualifies him as knowledgeable, merely prejudiced. With Arts funding at an all time low, Productions need all the revenue they can acquire, otherwise there won't be any live productions. Looks like they wont be getting get much revenue from M.A.

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