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NHS Performance at the Royal Opera House ©2021 ROH. Photograph by Lara Cappelli
NHS Performance at the Royal Opera House ©2021 ROH. Photograph by Lara Cappelli

Royal Opera House opens doors for showcase of art, opera and ballet as part of Open House London

Access is free with no booking required.

By Hattie Hafenrichter (Special Projects Communications Officer)
Wednesday 11 August 2021, 11am

Ahead of the launch of its upcoming 2021/22 Season, the Royal Opera House will throw open its doors on the weekend of Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 September as part of Open House London — giving families, first-time visitors and the culturally curious a taste of one of the world’s most famous theatres, in the heart of the West End, for free.

In a specially curated, self-guided walk containing art exhibits, displays and pop-up performances, visitors will be invited to step into the worlds of opera and ballet, discover our iconic building, enjoy some of the remarkable front-of-house spaces, and see stunning works of art from David Hockney and Tacita Dean.

With no booking required, visitors can turn up on either day, any time between 10.30am and 4.30pm, via our recently refurbished main entrance on Bow Street. The self-guided walk will take them back in time via the grand staircase and legendary Crush Room, through the stunning Paul Hamlyn Hall, and up to the top of the theatre for a chance to see inside a working ballet studio. There, a film featuring highlights from some of our best loved productions will be on view.

There will be short musical recitals in the Paul Hamlyn Hall performed every hour between 11am and 4pm on both days, including recitals from tenor Alan Pingarron, as well as special performances from current and former singers of The Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artists’ Programme.

David Hockney’s wonderful portrait of former General Administrator of the Royal Opera House, Sir David Webster, will be on display in the Main Entrance Foyer. The painting was recently sold by the Royal Opera House as part of its financial recovery campaign at the height of the pandemic, and we are grateful to David Ross for allowing us to hang it in our beautiful front of house spaces as part of this event.

In the Paul Hamlyn Hall, visitors will also see Tacita Dean’s original artwork for Inferno from Wayne McGregor’s eagerly anticipated Royal Ballet production of The Dante Project, which receives its world premiere in October.  The 12-metre long chalk-on-blackboard drawing, entitled Inferno, 2019, was created for the opening act of the ballet based on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and will mark Dean's first experience designing sets and costumes for the stage.

Visitors to the Royal Opera House will also be able to pick up a memento from the ROH Shop, enjoy a bite to eat in the café in the Main Foyer, or a drink on our beautiful Terrace overlooking Covent Garden piazza.

Jillian Barker, Director of Learning and Participation at the Royal Opera House, said:

'It is a wonderful feeling to see the spaces of the Royal Opera House once again light up as people return to our iconic Covent Garden home. We can’t wait to immerse visitors in the world of ballet and opera, showcase our proud history, and tell the story of the community of artists and craftspeople that make it one of the most famous theatres in the world.'

Even though rules have been relaxed across the country since 19 July, safety measures remain in place across the organisation to ensure the wellbeing of absolutely everyone who steps through our doors. These include enhanced cleaning and ventilation, regular anti-viral fogging, and strict staff protocols, with mask-wearing strongly encouraged.