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Open Up project update May 2015

Ahead of work starting at the Royal Opera House this autumn, we’re keen to hear your thoughts and questions.

By Alex Beard (Chief Executive)

29 May 2015 at 11.30am | 90 Comments

As you may well know, work on our Open Up building project will start this autumn.

It’s an exciting project to literally ‘open up’ the ground floor spaces within the Royal Opera House, improving access from Covent Garden and creating world class foyers to match the beauty of the auditorium and Paul Hamlyn Hall; to renovate the Clore Studio Upstairs making it a more versatile space, and to completely refurbish the Linbury Studio Theatre enhancing its acoustics and making it a vastly more comfortable and accessible venue for you.

The foyer areas will host a wide range of daytime activities with a ground floor café and a stunning glazed area on to Bow Street introducing far more natural light. Digital screens will showcase exhibitions and behind the scenes footage about the amazing things that happen here both on our stages and in our workshops, and the current cloakroom and lavatories will be much improved. The project is being funded entirely by private donations, for which we are extremely grateful.
The work will take two years during which we will maintain a full programme of opera and ballet in the iconic 1858 theatre, which will remain untouched.

We are delighted to have award winning architects Stanton Williams working with us. They bring a wealth of experience in working in sensitive contexts, and their sympathetic handling of natural materials, close attention to detail and imaginative use of space will help to create a Royal Opera House fit for this and the next generation of artists and audiences.

Inevitably there will be some disruption for our visitors and audiences during the construction period. The work will be phased so there could be changes each time you visit. However, we are working hard to minimize this and will be letting you know how the building work might impact on your visit through up to date information on our website and our usual communication channels.

So please do explore the Open Up section of our website, where you can find images and information about what the future will be for your opera house, and we will do everything we can to make sure that the impact of Open Up on your visit to the Royal Opera House is as minimal as possible.

We look forward to sharing this exciting journey with you and are grateful for your understanding and support along the way. Do share any thoughts or questions using the comment box below.

By Alex Beard (Chief Executive)

29 May 2015 at 11.30am

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged building, Open Up

This article has 90 comments

  1. David Lindsay responded on 29 May 2015 at 3:09pm Reply

    The proposals seem promising. Being 6ft 4in tall I particularly look forward to improved seating in the Linbury Theatre as I have been obliged to give up attending performances there due to the extreme discomfort of seat legroom. At ground level I hope that the provision of coffee bar type spaces will not lead to tables being regularly occupied by Wi-Fi users who are not interested in performances, as unfortunately is common at the Festival Hall!

  2. Neil Dellar responded on 29 May 2015 at 3:23pm Reply

    This looks very exciting. Is there an explanation of the cost of the project and how it will be paid for?



    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 29 May 2015 at 6:06pm

      Dear Neil

      The project is being funding entirely by private donations, for which we are very grateful. I have asked for details of the cost and will share the information when I have it.

      Best wishes


    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 1 June 2015 at 2:00pm

      Dear Neil

      The current estimated cost of the Open Up project is £37 million — but timing, scope, procurement and fundraising will all have a bearing on that figure.

      Best wishes


  3. Hugo Haig-Thomas responded on 29 May 2015 at 3:25pm Reply

    The photographs of the changes to be made would be very much more meaningful if they were shown alongside the same view as it is today, before the changes are made.

    Hugo Haig-Thomas

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 29 May 2015 at 3:53pm

      Thank you Hugo, we have done this on the page about the Linbury Studio Theatre, but there is an argument for doing it across the other pages. We will discuss the possibility of doing this.

      Best wishes


    • Simon Pascal responded on 6 June 2015 at 11:30am

      I agree, it would be much clearer if there were before and after images next to each other.

  4. Peter Anning responded on 29 May 2015 at 8:32pm Reply

    The section on community displays an image of children playing. Please do not go down the route of the Royal Festival Hall which seems full of children throughout the day and adults using free wifi and having meetings. These block facilities when attending a paid event there.

  5. Charles Martin responded on 30 May 2015 at 8:00am Reply

    The improvements to the Linbury are to be welcomed. The glazing of the Amphitheatre terrace and its restriction to restaurant users is most disappointing. This is an important part of the limited foyer space at that level and can serve as a very useful opportunity for fresh air, especially during the summer months. Not clear how the glazing "creates...engagement with the Piazza."

  6. Lewis Smith responded on 31 May 2015 at 4:20pm Reply

    "Opening Up" must surely be good. Can I make a plea for a parallel "Getting Out" theme? After a performance this often seems such a slow business, I often think - what if this were an emergency evacuation? In this respect, improvement to the downstais cloakroom/toilet area is welcome, as there is often confusion here.

  7. Mike Begley responded on 31 May 2015 at 7:09pm Reply

    Every theatre has its own unique ambience. It is a key part of the audience experience.when attending a performance as well as the quality of the actual show.
    The ROH has an amazing buzz like nowhere else, and I include opera houses I have visited in Europe.
    Open House is fine as a concept outside the 'performance zone' but will it add to the audience experience or detract?

  8. Simon responded on 1 June 2015 at 12:54am Reply

    Agree with Charles above and have been flooded with emails from friends raising the same point about the Amphi terrace. You will have a revolution on your hands from the regular amphi crowd if you turn the entire terrace into an enclosed restaurant! Most of us go to the theatre to see a performance rather than eat a meal, and in the summer we all love to be able to walk along the OPEN terrace and get some fresh air. The fact we don't do that in the winter is no reason to enclose it as such approach would mean no building has an open terrace or balcony. We will all be very annoyed if we cannot walk on the terrace - please confirm only some and not all of the terrace willl be swallowed by the restaurant? And please leave it open - we want fresh air, not to be incased in glass. For most performances the existing dining tables in the Floral balcony and amphi restaurant are not always full so why you feel the need for more tables in beyond me. Sooner or later you need to decide are you an opera house or a restaurant? Also agree with the Festival Hall comment above - you go there for a concert and you cannot even find a seat in the foyer because of all the people there who are using it as a "trendy" meeting or working space but are not going to the concert. I hope the ROH does not become the same. A lot of the proposals sound good on paper, although many of us would prefer the available millions of pounds from donations that seem to be able to be found to be spent on lowering ticket prices - that never seems to be the priority when money can be found despite every single GD saying their aspiration is to control / lower ticket prices......we hope for a good outcome for access for the entire audience to the terrace!

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 1 June 2015 at 3:25pm

      Dear Charles, Kenneth and Simon

      We have now clarified the text on the Open Up pages to reflect that the plan is to glaze only part of the Amphitheatre Terrace.

      Thank you for your comments about front of house spaces, they will be fed into discussions.

      Best wishes


  9. Kenneth Leadbeater responded on 1 June 2015 at 2:11am Reply

    I am alarmed to read "We will glaze the terrace at Amphitheatre level which will create additional seating covers for the restaurant".

    The ROH is an opera house, not a restaurant - and I would have thought there were enough dining places with the amphitheatre restaurant, the floral hall balconies and the private dining rooms in the basement below the foyer, not to mention the overspill tables in the amphitheatre bar. Those of us who are not dining have paid up to £200 for our seats and we expect a reasonable environment in which to relax during the intervals. The architects designed the terrace for audience circulation, but it has already been restricted by closing off the far-end of the terrace to preserve the privacy of the stage management office and roping off half the terrace outside the wardrobe space, presumably to stop daytime visitors from disturbing the wardrobe.

    Rather than spoil the experience of opera-goers every night for the sake of marginal additional profit from more restaurant covers, would it not be more appropriate to make marginal savings from the budgets of some of the extravagant productions undertaken?

    While I am on the subject, does the restaurant need to stack the chairs upside down on the tables of the Floral Hall Balcony the during the last act? It is not a pleasant sight for those of us descending the escalator at the end of an exciting opera performance. It is an opera house, not a restaurant. Maybe the restaurant could show some respect to opera patrons, by stacking the chairs after the theatre is closed or on the following morning.

  10. Charles Martin responded on 2 June 2015 at 11:55am Reply

    Ellen, thank you for your response.
    I remain surprised that closing off even part of the terrace is seen as in line with an Open Up project.
    And I see that the reference to the glazing of the terrace "creating..engagement with the Piazza" is still there. What is the thinking here, please? It seems to me that the only way that there can be engagement between two such vertically distant places is through the terrace remaining open. Is there an expectation that seated diners are more likely to pay attention to activities at ground level (sight lines permitting) through closed windows than people standing next to the open terrace wall?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 2 June 2015 at 6:17pm

      Dear Charles

      Glazing part of the terrace will enable more people to use this area when the weather is cold. There will still be an unglazed section where audience members can go for air during intervals.

      Best wishes


  11. Janice Brooke responded on 3 June 2015 at 9:18am Reply

    Proposals sound very forward-thinking. I do hope that plans for modifying the cloakroom might do something to alleviate the rugby scrum to retrieve coats that occurs at every performance during the winter. Many continental opera houses have several cloakrooms (smaller and in different locations) which spreads the load very successfully.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 3 June 2015 at 11:01am

      Hi Janice,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, queuing for the cloakroom is something that the Open Up plans are seeking to address.


      ROH Content Producer

  12. Margaret Houston responded on 5 June 2015 at 2:22pm Reply

    I took my young son who is confined to a wheelchair to a performance in The Linbury Studio. We were at the top with the balcony rail in front of us which was too high for my son to see over. Hopefully the new seating will take into account heights of people who have to be in modular chairs and cannot even use booster cushions and make better access closer to the stage. In the main auditorium we have sat in the stalls circle and have had a great view.

  13. Christine Todd responded on 5 June 2015 at 2:26pm Reply

    I am pleased to hear you will be updating the Piazza entrance, it is rather dark and bland, and l also hope they think about revamping the gift shop, it certainly needs it with a much better variety of this things being sold, l feel you are missing a great opportunity there, when l last visited l found it hard to find anything to buy and they didn't have what I wanted. I also overheard 2 ladies talking saying they couldn't find what they wanted, l digress but could go on.
    Look forward to seeing the new it completed.
    Regards Christine Todd.

  14. This is excellent news!

    Ever since the extension was completedy my wife and I felt that a great opportunity to link the building to the street had been lost. This new development makes the building 'work' and as a result more people will wander in and get to know it- even if they have never been to an opera or ballet. In much the same way as the national theatre, Tate modern and Tate Britain, Festival Hall and the Barbican are open, all sorts of people will get a chance to discover the building even If they cannot afford to actually attend an event

    When our children were young we used to take the to all these places. Back then we simply could not afford tickets. Only now that they have grown up and married are we all able to buy tickets and see all the wonderful ballets and operas at the ROH.

    This is great news.

  15. Claudia Pritchard responded on 5 June 2015 at 2:50pm Reply

    Can we have somewhere to sit down and change our shoes/trainers etc on arrival, please? Other opera houses in Europe and beyond provide little benches, knowing that patrons arrive on foot or by public transport, and do not travel in kitten heels.

  16. Jackie Ewins responded on 6 June 2015 at 8:52am Reply

    This sounds very e citing and I look forward to making more visits to renewed and accessible space. It will be great to know that the ROH is more of a community base with cafe etc on the ground floor. I love the idea of the rehearsal space for your artists.

  17. Simon Pascal responded on 6 June 2015 at 11:33am Reply

    Will there still be plenty of affordable standing places in the Linbury Theatre? I've 'taken a chance' on many Linbury performances with a standing ticket that I wouldn't have gone to if I'd had to pay for a seat.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 23 June 2015 at 4:01pm

      Dear Simon

      We have had this response to your query from the Open Up team:

      "On completion of the project, there will still be a variety of ticket prices available for both standing room and seating. The number of standing places will be slightly reduced, though the comfort of the seating and quality of the sightlines and acoustics will be improved dramatically to provide an all-round better experience for visitors."

      Best wishes


  18. Malcolm Chamberlain responded on 7 June 2015 at 6:34pm Reply

    I just want to add my name to those who have spotted amongst all the great ideas the misplaced proposals for the amphitheatre terrace. I can understand your wish to extend the restaurant into the smaller part of the terrace but please do not enclose any of the long section that is straight ahead through the doors. This is the vital "lung" for the building. You propose a new external terrace on the Bow Street frontage which only gets early morning sun, has no interesting views and would suffer from traffic noise and fumes. If an external terrace is worthwhile there you must surely agree it is very much more beneficial on the other side of the building at amphitheatre level.

  19. Christopher Rea responded on 12 June 2015 at 1:43pm Reply

    Linbury Foyer

    great to see an emergence of both colour and music theory in the preliminary model.

    Hirschfeld Mack + Beuys - Go!

  20. David Woodhead responded on 12 June 2015 at 8:07pm Reply

    Compared with very many opera houses in continental Europe and elsewhere (e.g. Dresden, Munich, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Prague, Budapest, Sydney etc) the access points to the ROH are distinctly underwhelming. If the project results in the ROH having a greater 'presence' externally and a greater 'sense of occasion' internally it will be welcome.

  21. Brian Lofts responded on 13 June 2015 at 3:34pm Reply

    Hello ROH,
    Don't know if this is the right place to tell you - but I got to about page 3 or 4 of your survey and there was no right hand arrow to continue! So I was unable to complete it. Only got as far as 12% done.
    Have you got a problem with it?
    Brian Lofts

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 17 June 2015 at 9:14pm

      Thank you for your feedback, Brian. We have passed it on to the team who created the survey.

      Best wishes


  22. Kevin F responded on 29 June 2015 at 10:55am Reply

    I abhor the proposal to glaze in the terrace to make more restaurant seating. Where are the amphitheatre crowd to meet and socialise? I know that the "ladies who lunch" do important work - committing time, talent & money - to the arts and the Opera House. However, the people who work, then have a quick sandwich, and go to enjoy a performance are also part of the Opera House. They need some space.

    Frankly the beauty of having an outside space, is to go outside. This idea only makes sense to people who aren't in the audience e.g. outside architects and ROH office staff.

  23. adam responded on 1 July 2015 at 10:43pm Reply

    If you can get private funding for this why do you need any public funding? Do people want to come out of the auditorium in the interval and mix with those who are just using the bar will that help build your corporate funding?

  24. Gloria Carter responded on 18 July 2015 at 9:16am Reply

    The top story loggia is one of the best bits of the building. Interesting when viewed from the piazza, lovely in proportion and Italianate in feeling, and essential to get a breath of fresh air during an interval. To glaze this in and lower the parapet (spoiling the external proportions) will not 'open up' anything. The building will look more like a department store. Losing the loggia to gain a few more metres to provide more tables for the restaurant is a poor and pointless swap. The place is already awash with eating areas. The immediacy of open-air connection with the piazza below and the rest of the London cityscape will be a real loss. Creating partial glazing is a waste of money. Owners of FL Wright houses who have glazed in their loggias have performed this travesty. The other changes to the building look promising. Just one other plea: please replace the trees in Bow St. after the alterations. The psychological plus created by trees is immeasurable.

  25. Liz Aitken responded on 21 September 2015 at 5:55pm Reply

    Whilst most of the proposals look promising I have to add my comments re the Amphitheatre terrace. In creating a summer and winter space it looks as though you will be reducing the space available to the amphitheatre audiences during intervals. I share some or the views expressed above re whether more restaurant space is needed but am most concerned about the impact of squeezing the same number of people into a smaller space. Would it be possible to consider glazing that can open up during the summer for part of the space thus maximising the fresh air?

  26. Barry Fearn responded on 21 September 2015 at 6:54pm Reply

    I am deeply disturbed by any proposal to "open up" or "make more accessible" a theatre or hall to which we have grown accustomed. It almost always disappoints. Many of your correspondents above have made similar points to mine; allowing the non-attending public to use the place as free shelter viz. the Nat. Theatre, the Barbican and, worst, the Festival Hall. All become dirty from overuse & crowded by laptop users sitting on available seats and then on the floor with nowhere for patrons to relax. The cloakroom facilities are the best of any theatre in Britain - fast, well-staffed and capacious, even if those who are not reclaiming coats get muddled with those queueing (that might be improved by marked traffic lanes to exits). What is not wanted is opening up a precious oasis of peace to the "general public" - and for what? Few will buy a ticket. Please leave the old place alone.

  27. David Coleman responded on 22 September 2015 at 9:03am Reply

    Generally excellent.
    However I would add my voice to the opposition to the proposals for the amphitheatre terrace. The amphitheatre bar gets extremely crowded and the terrace is essential circulation space. It would be better to remove most of the chairs and tables and have more stand-up tables. The W facing terrace should be returned to general use. I understand the need for revenue generating uses (and am very comfortable with more retail downstairs) but a balance needs to be struck and I would leave the terrace for general use. I assume your business plan makes an estimate of the increased revenue from devoting more of the terrace to commercial use. Can we hear what it is?

  28. David Crayford responded on 22 September 2015 at 12:07pm Reply

    I agree with those who reject the idea of glazing any part of the terrace and still more strongly to the provision of more reserved eating space. In my view this has effectively destroyed the amphi bar as reserved places block tables for the whole evening as opposed to (say) 30 minutes, leaving little space for those who want to use it as a bar.
    For this reason I now avoid the amphi bar as far as possible and feed elsewhere, to the loss of your trade. It now seems you are intent on doing the same to the balcony.

  29. Gay Fearn responded on 22 September 2015 at 1:22pm Reply

    I expect you are all too young to NEED to find somewhere to sit down, BUT oneday it will be your turn to
    a) Need to sit somewhere, lots of us come from out of London and need to sit and wait.
    b) To go to the loo. Have you been.c) to the Loos in either The National Theatre, The Festival Hall or The Barbican? They are disgusting, over used by the public and often the disabled loos are used by the, LUCKY able bodied.
    c) Do we, those of us who save up to go to all the performances we can, have to be surrounded by those who are NOT paying for seats,in their grubby clothes , with their noses stuck in to their various machines, plugged into their ear phones, ignoring those who have got on their prettiest clothes for a special night out, listening to beautiful music and hopefully looking at wonderful happenings on the stage.
    The Royal Opera House is for the patrons who have LONG supported you , not for those who just want to sit in warm and beautiful surroundings.
    Take a trip to those places I mentioned earlier and see how the NON paying public treat them.
    Please allow us somewhere where what we pay for the privilege of being with you is rewarded with a chance to get away from the madding crowd

  30. John Penney responded on 24 September 2015 at 3:55pm Reply

    Leaving a performance crowded and unacceptable - what would happen if there was a need to evacuate in an emergency I hate to think!
    More drinks and snack space during the interval should be another real priority.
    For me the proposals are imaginative but do the go with a 19c Opera House?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 7 October 2015 at 3:39pm

      Hi John,

      Please be assured that all work and contingency for customer flow will adhere to current fire regulations.


      ROH Content Producer

  31. The Bow Street addition to the Paul Hamlyn / Floral Hall is large and may overwhelm the building seen above it. The new structure should, at the very least, echo in a sympathetic manner the beauty above it, rather than look simply as a box 'stuck on', as it does in your images.
    I am not convinced your choice of architects have an empathy for the ROH buildings or its raison d'être.

  32. Beverly Averill responded on 28 September 2015 at 8:24am Reply

    I too have very strong misgivings over the glazing in of the Amphi terrace and the need for ever more tables for diners. The Amphi bar area is already full of tables for those who wish to eat, making it a very uncomfortable space for those who wish to either stand and talk or to have a drink in the interval. Since the refurbishment many moons ago, we the Amphi audience have seen ourselves crushed and squeezed with the advent of additional in-house seating and the mushrooming of tables in the bar area. Surely it is time to take the needs and wishes of your regular patrons into account rather than this constant pressure to re-invent the wheel!

  33. Alexandra Eldin-Taylor responded on 1 October 2015 at 1:18pm Reply

    I feel that 37 millions is an excessive amount to spend on the appearance of the ROH. I would prefer more affordable seats for the young, poor or unemployed.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 7 October 2015 at 3:50pm

      Hi Alexandra,

      Please be assured that this project is primarily about improving access to the Royal Opera House. These plans will allow the organization to improve the experience of coming to the ROH for our existing audience, and attract vital new audiences as well.

      In regards to ticket prices, his Season tickets start at just £2 for ballet performances and £5 for opera with more than 150,000 tickets priced at less than £20. In addition, last Season 17,500 low-cost tickets (targeted at first-time audiences) were provided through the ROH's extensive Learning and Participation programme. Our commitment to accessibility will continue in future Seasons..


      ROH Content Producer

  34. Sylvana responded on 1 October 2015 at 1:19pm Reply

    Overall improvements to ground level flow are welcome and I agree with previous comments regarding additional tables ... everyone ends up squeezing into corridors, however, I'm always concerned about how sympathetic these "additions" are to the original structure ... it's so sad to see ultra modern construction in the middle of beautiful, classic architecture .... too much glass/metal....

  35. Mrs FM Flory responded on 1 October 2015 at 1:35pm Reply

    Much of the new project looks exciting but am concerned that some of the very special element of coming to the opera house will be lost together with practicalities. How will those who need transport get to the opera house if the area is pedestrianised? The cinema showings are a great innovation and open up the house to more to enjoy the performances. Please keep the actual coming to the House special! M. Flory

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 13 October 2015 at 12:16pm

      Dear Mrs Flory

      Apologies, we may have confused you with one of the photographs, showing a view of the ROH from Bow Street. There is no plan to pedestrianise Bow Street, so you will be able to be dropped off outside the building as you are now.

      Best wishes


  36. Jeff responded on 1 October 2015 at 2:25pm Reply

    I am amazed at the objective to fund-raise £37m from private donations. How are these made and by whom. Is it thousands of small donations or a small amount of large donations you are seeking. And what do donators receive in return?

  37. All around the world I have found public spaces being "improved" so that they look and feel like all the other public spaces. This usually includes the casual seating area, if any, being transformed into an upmarket Starbucks. I hope that this time, for the first time, I will be pleasantly surprised.

  38. Nina Battleday responded on 1 October 2015 at 3:52pm Reply

    In general the plans seem good, although I don't like the idea of covering in the terrace. Also as a,frequent visitor to the National Theatre I find that since it's 'opened up' it's lost a lot of it's appeal of being a theatre space. I would like to make a suggestion and plea for seating to be made available in Bow street for the less mobile of us to use when waiting for transport. A friend and I, both with mobility problems had to wait outside the theatre a,while ago for nearly N hour, not the best way to finish what had, up till then, been a lovely evening.

  39. Ann responded on 1 October 2015 at 3:56pm Reply

    On your website it says that "The Clore Studio will be refurbished and a new, more comfortable seating system will be provided ..." Does this mean the benches will be replaced by proper seats? A few years ago I attended an Insight and had to squeeze in beside a very large lady who was taking up both her space and most of my own. I had to sit sideways on, balancing on my hip for the whole of the Insight which was extremely uncomfortable.

  40. Richard King responded on 1 October 2015 at 5:00pm Reply

    Regarding the changes to the existing ground floor spaces, it seems it's all about attracting people inside in the hope that they will spend money in the cafe and the greater space given over to "retail". Two of the stated objects are (i) "to provide space for gathering throughout the day" and (ii) "to help define the space as a meeting place". Oh dear, people sat there for ages hogging tables while on their laptops or holding their business meetings. I suspect the worst fears already expressed about the likely effect of achieving these objectives will have on this new space will inevitably come to pass. In any event, experience tells us what the ROH management do with "space": they fill it with ever increasing numbers of tables to feed the catering juggernaut that has been unleashed since the rebuilding. Since the reopening we have seen the Crush Room entirely taken over for eating, more and more tables for eating added to the Floral Hall, the addition of tables in the Amphi Bar and the appropriation of the Western facing Amphi Terrace by the restaurant.

    What these changes have to do with promoting "inclusivity" I really don't know, unless by "inclusivity" they mean getting more people in to spend money in the cafe and the enlarged retail space.

    As to Jeff''s point about about what the donors will expect or be given in return, will we end up seeing the new foyer being called after one of the donors? Does anyone other than the Management refer to the Floral Hall as the Paul Hamlyn Hall?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 13 October 2015 at 10:50am

      Dear Richard

      The desire to bring people inside the building is not primarily to ensure that they spend money. We wish to make the ROH feel more open and welcoming, so that people who have yet to visit are willing to drop in. They may be coming for one of our free recitals, Family Sundays or a tea dance - we want to ensure that everyone feels able to come through our doors.

      Best wishes


    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 13 October 2015 at 11:28am

      Dear Richard

      The desire to bring people inside the building is not primarily to ensure that they spend money. We wish to make the ROH feel more open and welcoming, so that people who have yet to visit are feel able to drop in. They may be coming to the ROH for one of our free recitals, Family Sundays or a tea dance - we want to ensure that everyone feels able to come through our doors.

      Best wishes


    • Michael Varcoe-Cocks responded on 6 January 2016 at 2:16am

      For years I have wondered why the opportunity has not been taken to re-name the Floral Hall the Fonteyn Hall, honouring and respecting one of the greatest British artists ever to have graced the Royal Opera House. I share your fear that the new area will attract the name of a donor. I will continue - like virtually all fellow-patrons - continue to refer to the Floral Hall as the Floral Hall.

  41. Peter Hill responded on 2 October 2015 at 12:05am Reply

    Further to earlier comments on the glazing, partly or fully, of the amphitheatre balcony, as a regular visitor I believe that this is a seriously retrograde step. This open balcony must be one of the best such examples of any theatre in London and is packed with patrons around performance times for most of the year. It was a major new feature, much approved of, when the Opera House was rebuilt and should be retained at all costs. Whilst the amphitheatre restaurant will sometimes gain from the income from extra tables, there are many occasions when it is seen not to be full ... I cannot believe that this glazing is therefore justified.

    It is also a pity that all the trees on the Bow Street front of the building are being removed. They gently soften the front appearance of the building without hiding it in any significant way. If they are too close to the new frontage, surely new ones could be placed closer to the Bow Street kerb line?

  42. Samantha Hill responded on 2 October 2015 at 8:02am Reply

    Some of these proposals are exciting & if they widen the appeal & allow greater accessibility, then it's a no-brainer. Some of the photos on offer are misleading, as they do not compare proposed with existing from the same angle! The unique spirit of the Opera House lives within the areas that retain the original architecture. The thought of losing the grand, sweeping staircase from Paul Hamlyn Hall to original foyer - if I am correct - is heartbreaking; please think about this! It is rather pleasant - although often a little chilly - to be able to wander outside at amphitheatre level, it would be sad to lose this. Of course, this is all very well for those who can afford to enjoy the Opera House - do these plans include more accessible ticket prices? I can only afford to go on rare occasions, and frequently feel completely out of place in M&S clothes, rather than designer! Among those quaffing expensive wines in the auditorium while I make my bottled water last another half hour. I don't imagine some of the children in the inner London school where I am a Governor will EVER be able to enjoy peformances here, and a substantial amount of public money will be used for this. What do you have in mind for this? I have no problem with public subsidy being used for restoring our artistic heritage, but it would be satisfying to think that this program makes the Opera House more accessible for generations to come, not just adding to its elitist experience.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 7 October 2015 at 3:45pm

      Hi Samantha,

      In regards to your comments about the photos, they are computer generated images, rather than photos so please be assured they are likely to be accurate representations.

      To address your concerns about ticket prices, this Season tickets start at just £2 for ballet performances and £5 for opera with more than 150,000 tickets priced at less than £20. In addition, last Season 17,500 low-cost tickets (targeted at first-time audiences including school pupils) were provided through the ROH's extensive Learning and Participation programme. Our commitment to accessibility will continue in future Seasons as growing new audiences for opera and ballet is vital.

      As you’ll be aware, we don’t operate a dress code and you are welcome to wear whatever you like to the ROH.


      ROH Digital Producer

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 13 October 2015 at 10:46am

      Dear Samanta,

      Just to add to Chris's reply, that there are no plans to do any work on the staircase from the foyer to the Paul Hamlyn Hall - the changes will be to the modern staircase from the cloakroom to the PHH.

      Best wishes


  43. Benjamin Thompson responded on 2 October 2015 at 10:00am Reply

    I agree with many of the above comments about the Amphitheatre/Restaurant/Bar/Terrace. I can see a case for glazing some of the terrace, but please leave plenty open: I'm quite happy to go out there even when it's very cold.

    More crucially, the overall space for non-diners (i.e. bar-attenders and others doing their own thing) MUST not be reduced, and really should be expanded. If the new proposals do not meet this test they will, as is said above, cause a riot.

  44. Mike Udal responded on 17 October 2015 at 12:25am Reply

    Several people have expressed anxiety about attracting the non-opera-going public to the new foyer areas, coffee bar, etc. This might be less of a problem if you did not provide free Wi-Fi and accessible power points. (I suppose you could provide Wi-Fi just for Friends).

  45. Sheila Lindenbaum responded on 16 November 2015 at 3:37pm Reply

    This is obviously a way to make more money for the house by bringing in more of the public, but I am praying that the experience of attending won't be ruined for the present patrons. I hope that the removal of the photographs of historic productions from the corridors, and their replacement by ugly photos and 'art', are not a sign of what is to come. Who was responsible for these soulless exhibits? Just this small change made the house seem far less pleasurable last time I was there.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 24 November 2015 at 3:17pm

      Hi Sheila,

      Please be assured that Collections content such as the archive photography you refer to will return to Front of House areas in the future after the completion of building work, alongside exhibitions such as the current Don Giovanni one.


      ROH Content Producer

  46. Peter Reynolds responded on 7 December 2015 at 12:10pm Reply

    Having just attended a concert at Barbican Hall, I echo some of the worries of web-browsers taking up permanent residence in an open area. At the Barbican and Royal Festival Hall it is often impossible to find a seat or table to take your refreshment. Some squatters spread themselves and belongings over more furniture than a family. It would be lovely to tempt many visitors from the piazza into the house and treat them with reasonably priced food of good quality and the special atmosphere of our performances on high fidelity video, but if all the space is continually occupied then they will simply go to where they can be accommodated. We want a large footfall with short dwell time to maximise turnover.

  47. Catherine responded on 25 December 2015 at 3:24pm Reply

    Merry Christmas !

    Having attented a performance of Carmen (the opera) on November 16th, I experienced a "semblance" of security (checking of the bags of the visitors in the afternoon and of the patrons in the evening, but not in the Box Office surprisingly). It was too close to Paris' attacks, the ushers/hostesses were too busy and not trained to handle the situation efficiently ; I am wondering if the ROH has maintained and improved its measures ; to ensure a minimum level of risk prevention, people should be controlled before entering the ROH.
    How will the Open Up project deal with appropriate security???

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 5 January 2016 at 10:44am

      Hi Catherine,

      Security is very important to us, and I have fed your comments back to the Front of House teams. Regarding the Open Up project, the works will improve the flow of people into (and around) the building, which we're sure will further improve our security arrangements.



  48. Robert Garbolinski responded on 29 December 2015 at 1:34pm Reply

    ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR TINY MINDS TO REDUCE THE SPACE ON THE AMPHITHEATRE TERRACE EVEN MORE????? I wish to remind you that the space was designed for ALL (I did speak to the architect! No sooner had it opened there was an iron grill at the west end FOR THE STAFF TO HAVE A SMOKING AREA! This was virtually never used during performances. THE YOU ERECTED A B & Q wooded trellis/fence on the Southern part to cut off half of the usable area on that side. Then you roped off the area in front of the costume workshop so that staff were not looked at. They have blinds to pull down for that. So, we the PAYING PUBLIC have only had an area to use of that terrace of about half of what it was intended for! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED! Have any of you actually tried to get out on the terrace in the summer especially when the restaurant then put table and chairs outside cutting off the entire South Terrace meaning the whole audience has LESS THAN HALF THE TERRACE TO CROWD INTO??? Especially when the inside restaurant is empty!!! Have you no idea at all how to keep your audience happy than just herd them like cattle into such a small space? Get real - get the concession restaurant inside - if it is empty then the general public audience should be able t use the tables and chairs inside for free. Ditch these stupid ideas for the outside terrace and let the audience use them as originally intended and required!!! Do something about it and think of your paying regular attending audience rather than provoke them with these stupid ideas about the terrace. OPEN IT UP!!!! The AUDIENCE COMES FIRST!

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 4 January 2016 at 12:21pm

      Hi Robert,

      The area of public space on the Amphitheatre Terrace will not change, but the work will allow us to improve its usability meaning that it can be used more often in the winter months. We are also building a further terrace on the front of the Paul Hamlyn hall, meaning that terrace space across the building actually increases.



  49. nicolas responded on 5 January 2016 at 5:25pm Reply

    As in all "refurbishment" art/heritage schemes , there are those who are enthusiastic and those who clearly are annoyed , aggravated and very disappointed by the proposals. Whilst not wishing to add to the plethora of comments, is it too late for there to be a short series of consultations( used to be called focus groups !) with the members to allow them to personally present their views and equally to listen to the Project team. If this has already happened, apologies. If not, it should and at least the paying public/members would feel less excluded and much more supportive.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 7 January 2016 at 12:58pm

      Hi Nicholas,

      Focus group consultation was done in early 2014 which included Friends and there was a public consultation and exhibition in the main foyer in November 2014 to which feedback from all audiences/visitors was encouraged.



  50. Gloria Carter responded on 5 January 2016 at 5:53pm Reply

    Hear hear R Garbolinski. V sadly the die is most likely cast now. We needed someone of Mies van der Rohe's stature and wisdom to insist upon keeping the whole terrace as open space. No glazing in, no spreading out of the restaurant area. Just an open air area to snatch a breath of fresh air and gaze on the cityscape. That would be too easy. The extra terrace onto Bow St is not the issue here. Does anyone with the influence to change this plan actually read these comments to find out how some people feel about this?

  51. Paul responded on 5 January 2016 at 10:32pm Reply

    Please bring back the dress code. The dishevelled state of many people now attending the ROH is hugely depressing and shows a complete lack of respect for the performers and the grand architecture of the building.

  52. John Goulden responded on 6 January 2016 at 3:19am Reply

    Overall, I welcome the plans, especially for the Linbury, subject to two comments:
    I agree with those who urge you to amend the proposals for the terrace. A larger restaurant merely adds to the 'corporate entertainment' aspect of the ROH, which is undesirable in itself and especially unsuitable in the Amphitheatre area. Glazing part of the area is reasonable, but the terrace should be available primarily to non-diners and should continue to include a good share of open-air space.
    My main concern is about exit arrangements from the Amphitheatre. The closure of the wooden staircase from the Floral Hall to the ground floor means that we have to cross the Floral Hall and join the scrum down the Grand Staircase before battling to get to our coats or to reach the Bow St door. Any restructuring that does not address this current problem will be a wasted opportunity.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 7 January 2016 at 12:55pm

      Hi John,

      Regarding the exit arrangements from the Amphitheatre, we are planning to introduce a cloakroom on the amphitheatre level in order to provide better facilities for audiences on this level and improve the experience for everyone collecting coats after the performance.



  53. Mikele responded on 8 January 2016 at 2:54pm Reply

    The space surrounding the ROH could be made more interactive and inviting with the use of smart street furniture such as the solar powered, phone charging, wifi providing, environmental sensing Strawberry Smart Bench. It also has an app that allows users to find the closest phone charger and engage with the local community via info on local venues. See:

  54. Clive Couzens responded on 16 January 2016 at 4:42pm Reply

    What a shame that there will be no more tea dances for at least two years. I wonder how many of the clientele will never have the opportunity to dance at the ROH again.

  55. Will they have a plenty seat for books reading? With drink from the bar? It's nice to be change. Better seats area in the future.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 2 February 2016 at 3:08pm

      Hi Joseph,

      We're looking to enhance our daytime offering (including enhanced catering) so ensuring seating is available will be an element of this.



  56. Michael Possener responded on 28 January 2016 at 11:04am Reply

    Would it be possible for you to publish on your website every week (or couple of weeks) a list of changes at that time which the audience should expect when they come for a performance. For example,
    a. which entrance can be used
    b. where can coats be left
    c. where can tickets be picked up
    d. where are the toilets
    e. how does one get to the Amphitheatre f. which restaurants are available.
    I understand that every one of these will be affected during construction and it would be most useful, and save a bit of time, if one was prepared in advance.

  57. To Chris Shipman, thank for the email. I am concern in the future while the redevelopment and refurbished. When I arrive, I normally seat down and relax while I'm waiting till about 5.30 pm. Sometime, I sit down and read my book. But there are 2 seat outside the box office!! Too many peoples arrive and standing and waiting outside the box office. I get back aches without sitting down. I do!! I know there is one toilet near the box office. Amphitheatre is move downstairs? It would be much nice a cup of tea and reading my book which is allowed me more time. During the break, I have go to lift to Amphitheatre for a cup of tea but there was too many peoples in the Amphitheatre Bar!!! Some time some people took my seat while my table is reserved. It would be much better instead going up by lift to old Amphitheatre. Will they be ready in a few years time?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 11 February 2016 at 11:17am

      Hi Joseph,

      Regarding seating, one element of the Open Up project is to expand the provision for visitors outside of performance hours, and as such catering and seating to make the theatre more welcoming to visitors will be addressed.

      Access and visitors' ease of getting around the building is also a prime motivation.



  58. responded on 11 February 2016 at 7:32pm Reply

    Do you really mean there will NEVER be any Tea Dances - or is that just during redesign? I don't see any plans for the Floral Hall and it is perfect for that once a month event.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 12 February 2016 at 1:19pm

      Hi Gill,

      Tea dances will be paused during the project, but will recommence afterwards. Work will be taking place in the Paul Hamlyn Hall at a later date, building an external terrace to give the theatre more of a presence on Bow Street.



  59. Last time I came to Royal Opera House in February early this year, just normal and fine. Till I return on 4th of March for La traviata, I arrive on the other side enter to Royal Opera House but I may not beware about that. I have no idea till I get there. At 5.30 pm, I went to cloakroom and hand it over my coat then went to the lift to Amphitheatre Bar. I notice there was another cloakroom outside Amphitheatre Restaurant. Some people line and hand it over there coat. It's like slow service. Would it's better to open 5 pm instead 5.30 pm? Allow more time for the arrive before the performance start. After the opera's finish, after I got my coat back, start to walk back to hotel which take me 20 to 25 minutes. Walking wrong direction to hotel which cause me lost. Normally take 10 - 15 minutes. I do take walk and I know the route to hotel. I got back safely return to hotel. I am return on the 6th of March for Il tabard. I have my map before I get there. It's my concern safety to return. How many peoples are not aware about the enter and the cloakroom?

    • Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 7 March 2016 at 12:31pm

      Hi Joseph,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I’m sorry if you experienced any difficulties on your last visit here.
      We have endeavoured to contact all our bookers about Open Up construction. We do appreciate all feedback and I will pass your comments to the Open Up team.
      Kind regards,

  60. Are there display in glass? For the new area is what look like in the new royal opera house's area. I must reminder to tell you, l do get backache. I hope get better seat like armchair something. More comfortable.

    • Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 11 April 2016 at 11:09am

      Hi Joseph,

      The Open Up team are working hard to make sure the renovations will improve our audience's experience to the ROH. Further information about the project can be found here.

  61. William Swales responded on 10 April 2016 at 2:42pm Reply

    What a wonderful project to bring pleasure, joy, and wonderment to the British public. Such humbling generosity to enliven the lives of others leaves one in awe.

    Whilst I do not know what cherries you have planned to put on the cake in the foyer, without I hope you thinking me presumptuous, a suggestion for the refurbished foyer would be to install a Marshall and Wendell ‘Ampico B’ or a ‘Steck’ ‘reproducing’ piano. These are ‘self-playing’ grand pianos operated by ‘piano rolls’ – but these are no ordinary pianos because – unlike ‘Pianola’ pianos - these amazing machines do not simply ‘play the notes’ - they accurately ‘reproduce’ the full the dynamic range of the captured performance – including the operation of the ‘sustain’ and ‘loud’ pedals with astonishing realism.

    But here is the best bit – the Ampico piano rolls play virtuoso performances ‘recorded’ by notables such as Franz Liszt; Maurice Ravel; Camille Saint-Saëns; Frederick Chopin; Serge Rachmaninov; George Gershwin; Percy Granger; Scot Joplin; Paul Whiteman; and a whole host of other amazing composers (the catalogue that lists all of the rolls is still available - as is the operation and repair manual) - so you can see and appreciate why acquiring such a wonderful instrument and having a curator describe it and operate it in the foyer would be very ‘fitting’ for the image of ROH – as well as bowl-over everyone who hears it play (people are usually stunned into shocked jaw-dropping silence).

    There are CD recordings available so that you can get a ‘flavour’ of what these wonderful machines are capable of doing. Although nowhere near as good as being in a room listening to one playing ‘live’, the available recordings do allow you to hear the compositions and ‘feel’ the composer present as he plays his masterwork.

    I welcome your thoughts.

    Have a lovely day.

  62. Geoff responded on 15 May 2016 at 7:31am Reply

    Just found this page and have now read through all the comments. The clear majority are concerned about closing in the terrace, either partly or completely, i.e. taking fresh air and exterior space and turning it into more (air conditioned?) interior space for diners only.

    By comparison the infrequent and not entirely coherent responses from ROH on this issue suggest final decisions may still be up for discussion. That would be good: I hope wiser heads are reconsidering and will honour the strong feelings expressed by so many over a long period.

    Perhaps a sensible compromise would be for the "partial" (please hope that you leave a large area permanently open) glazing to be designed so that it can be removed and/or opened, so that on fine days there is no glazing at all.

    Incidentally my view on this subject would not change even if you somehow found a way to make the "dining experience" more attractive to me (better value for money, wider range of options, including nicer simpler tastier food at better prices - I eat at all prices throughout the West End but have long ago given up on overpriced fancy muck at ROH - there is never the time for "fine dinng" so a different approach might boost trade)

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