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  • Update for Friends of Covent Garden: April 2015

Update for Friends of Covent Garden: April 2015

New Season announced, and online booking times confirmed for 2015/16.

By Susan Fisher (Head of Membership)

15 April 2015 at 8.06am | 21 Comments

Thank you to everyone who has given us feedback on the early opening of the priority booking. While we appreciate that no time will suit everyone, the majority of the Friends welcomed the early start. The most appealing factor was the speed and absence of problems.

Taking this feedback into account, as well as the results of a similar trial for general booking last month, we have decided to open priority booking for all levels of Friends at 9am from now on. Telephone booking remains unchanged and will open at 10am.

If you don't feel confident booking online, my team and I will be very willing to assist you. If you prefer to book by phone, we will have an allocation of tickets available based on the percentage of Friends who book in this way.

The Season Guide and Autumn Magazine are now on the way to you. I hope that you will find our 2015/16 programme exciting. While the magazine is listing autumn performances, there are still many wonderful performances to enjoy during 2014/15: Król Roger is in rehearsal and the revival of Il turco in Italia is making many of us laugh. Something else that brightens everyone's mood is at the top of the page - it's always lovely to see Peregrine, the equine star of La Fille mal gardée back at the Royal Opera House!

And last but not least, many thanks again for your support. Please do continue giving us your feedback, we like to hear from you.

By Susan Fisher (Head of Membership)

15 April 2015 at 8.06am

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged development, Friends of Covent Garden, Support

This article has 21 comments

  1. Gillian Comins responded on 16 April 2015 at 2:54pm Reply

    I am glad that booking will open earlier than - although I wd. have preferred 8 am. I think it worth mentioning that after continually being frustrated in booking for the amphitheatre, I tried the first hublic booking and got everything I wanted and a far better choice. Being a low level Friend brings you the magazine,but not much else.

    • John Hart responded on 16 April 2015 at 3:56pm

      I entirely agree as another 'low level Friend'

      I note with dismay that another tier has been added above us! Who voted for that I wonder
      Hardly the way to make new Friends but maybe it was decided it was more important to influence (richer) people

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 16 April 2015 at 9:27pm

      Dear John

      The category of Friends+ actually replaces another group (that of Joint Friends) and so is a rename and refocus rather than a wholly new tier.

      Best wishes


    • Susan.Fisher (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 17 April 2015 at 10:00am

      Thank you for your comment. I would like to reassure you that we appreciate the support from all the Friends. We always offered a number of different levels and initiatives some being purely philanthropic and others offering priority booking. We have not introduced a new level, however the Joint Membership was renamed last September to Friends+. Do contact the Friends’ team if you would like more information about any of our support initiatives.

      Susan Fisher
      Head of Friends and Patrons

  2. Jane Binstead responded on 16 April 2015 at 9:49pm Reply

    I accept that online is the way everything is going, and at least my experience of it was less painful than trying to book Proms tickets. But, as someone who travels a lot and therefore can't necessarily be online the day booking opens - and as a "low level" Friend (of long standing!) - I do hope the postal option is going to be kept. I greatly value the ability to send in my booking in advance, before I set off, knowing that I have a fair chance even with mega-popular works. Until we can do that online, please keep the postal booking as an option.

  3. Elizabeth Tebbutt responded on 17 April 2015 at 2:23am Reply

    Having been a Friend of Covent Garden for over 20 years, I find that as a 'low level' Friend, it is now impossible to obtain a seat for the Royal Ballet in Rehearsal (formerly known as Masterclass) if held in the Clore Studio. If held in the Linbury, I have once managed to get a back row seat and once a standing place, which was all that was available by the time the booking opened for 'low level' Friends, whereas in the past I was able to obtain a ticket at one Masterclass per booking period at least.
    I agree with the above comments that there are now few advantages of being a Friend these days as the best seats go to those who can afford a higher level of membership. I believe that to be elitist and unfair. The price of the membership has continued to rise and yet, as a 'low level' Friend, I am getting less and less.

  4. Richard Griffiths responded on 17 April 2015 at 7:30am Reply

    Why is it that telephone bookng still opens at 10am?. If you book a lot of performances on line booking is not very practical

  5. Nina Battleday responded on 17 April 2015 at 10:22am Reply

    Agree about 'low level' Friends. I frequently find I do as well if not better by waiting for public booking. And personally, I can't understand why someone who pays,for a higher level of membership then rushes out to buy standing tickets!

  6. Tom responded on 17 April 2015 at 3:00pm Reply

    Have the booking dates for 2015/2016 seasons been announced yet?
    I can't even find the dates for Winter yet but assume they are known as the Magazine has gone to print.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 17 April 2015 at 3:18pm

      Hi Tom,

      Booking dates for each production are available on the 'production page' for each work by clicking 'Why?' next to 'Not on Sale' by each date.

      For Winter 2015/16, Ballet booking for Friends opens on 22 September, with Opera booking for Friends opening a day later on 23 September. General booking opens on 21 October 2015.


      ROH Content Producer

  7. Jon responded on 20 April 2015 at 10:52am Reply

    Speaking personally, now that the booking process is quite speedy, 8 am for online booking is the best time for me (and I suspect many others) as it means I can book tickets before heading off to work. The later booking times mean booking from work and often conflict with other work priorities, which can make it more difficult to get the tickets I want.

  8. John Hart responded on 21 April 2015 at 8:37am Reply

    Many thanks for responding to my questions about low level friends. As other members have indicated this does not answer the problems arising about having different tiers and benefits in the organisation according to ability to pay. As someone who began supporting the ROH in the 1970's I remember that rehearsals were much more egalitarian then-ie First Come First Served in the queue for better seating. There was also a christmas party opened to all!
    So now as a (sometimes grumpy) older man I am wondering if, and how to renew membership in the occasionally mentioned Senior Category?

  9. Stephanie Burgess responded on 25 April 2015 at 1:18pm Reply

    Many thanks for the new Magazine today but wonder if I am missing something as I can't find the ballet casting information, I know where it used to be listed but no longer evidently.

    I would be grateful for advice on where to find it please.

    Many thanks.

    • Carol Mathias responded on 26 April 2015 at 11:00am

      In the letter that came with the brochure it stated "I am sorry that we have not been able to include details of any casting for the ballet productions this time. The information will be provided once announced."
      As I said "How is one supposed to book without knowing who is dancing?"

  10. Elizabeth Tebbutt responded on 26 April 2015 at 2:05am Reply

    Please could we have the ballet castings before the next Friends' booking opens? I would imagine that the majority of Friends book ballet tickets according to who is dancing on a particular date.
    I would also like to mention that this is the second Friends' magazine where there is far more opera on the main stage than ballet: in fact, over the next ROH year, there are 15 'traditional' operas compared with only 3 'traditional' ballets! Much as I enjoy triple bills from time to time, the traditional full length ballets seem to be few and far between in the coming year and the balance of traditional and modern/new has been dramatically upset as has the balance between opera and ballet at Covent Garden!

  11. Carol Mathias responded on 26 April 2015 at 10:57am Reply

    I hope by June that you will let us know the casts for the ballets. How is one supposed to book without knowing who is dancing? I would appreciate it if you could email us when the cast lists are available.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 29 April 2015 at 6:44pm

      Dear Carol

      We will be able to share ballet casting soon, and certainly well before the beginning of June.

      Best wishes


  12. Melanie Morrison responded on 27 April 2015 at 5:27pm Reply

    Firstly, I would echo comments made re online booking times - 9.00 a.m. is a very awkward time. Please can it be pushed back to 8.00 a.m., as it used to be in the past (before it was suddenly changed to 10.00)?

    Secondly - and most importantly - I am copying & pasting my comments and the reply I received, in response to the Autumn 2015 announcement on the main site, as I am (as are many others) an extremely disgruntled Friend. To be honest, I simply cannot believe the response I received - especially as part of it is totally confusing and part of it is completely untrue. I also found Chris Shipman's reply rather patronising. Something needs to be sorted out immediately, I think you would agree.

    Initial comment, posted earlier today:

    "To echo some of the comments above, in all my years of being a Friend, the ballet casting has always been announced in the magazine (Chris Shipman must be very new to the job). It is absolutely IMPERATIVE that casting is announced - not just online, but posted out to all Friends - well in advance of booking opening. How else are we expected to book for ballet performances - wear a blindfold and stick in a pin? If you are unable to announce ballet casting prior to opening of booking - then put back the booking dates."

    Chris Shipman (Content Producer (Social Media and News)) responded on 27 April 2015 at 2:59pm

    "Hi Melanie,

    We endeavor to provide casting details for booking days where possible - for Autumn ballet performances this will be on 16 June for Friends of Covent Garden, and 14 July for the Friends of Covent Garden). The best place to find information - and stay notified of any cast changes - is by checking the website and production page for each performance. If you're interested in following a particular artist, each Royal Ballet dancer has a 'people page' where you can find details of all confirmed future performances (eg.

    Looking back at the last two April issues of the magazine (April 2013 and April 2014), casting was not confirmed for the Season to follow in either case. This is due to ballet casting working to a different timeline to opera performances - opera singers may be booked four or five years in advance whereas because of the nature of the art-form, ballet casting may be more subject to change. As I'm sure you'd agree, where possible we aim to minimize the changing of casts and disruption on the part of our audience, hence they're confirmed only once we're as sure as we can be about who will be dancing what role.

    ROH Content Producer"

    My latest reply:

    "Thank you for your reply, Chris, but please would you clarify what you mean by casting being announced "for Autumn ballet performances this will be on 16 June for Friends of Covent Garden, and 14 July for the Friends of Covent Garden)."? As booking for ballet performances opens at 9.00 a.m. on 16 June, this is not satisfactory - always assuming that you do mean the announcement is being made on 16 June and not on 14 July? As this booking date is for "normal" Friends, any Patron or higher level of Friend will be even worse off.

    Incidentally, I have in front of me the April 2014 issue of the ROH magazine with details of that autumn's performances - ballet casting is printed as bold as brass."

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 28 April 2015 at 6:15pm

      Dear Melanie

      Thank you for your post.

      First of all, apologies for any confusion - the booking dates are as Chris outlined above, but we will be releasing casting details ahead of the first booking date (2 June for Premium 2 Friends). It is also the case that the casting is usually included in the Friends magazine, but on this occasion we were unable to have it confirmed ahead of the publication deadline.

      I'm sorry if you found Chris's response patronising - that certainly wasn't the intention. I hope that makes everything a little clearer.

      Best wishes


  13. Jill Antrobus responded on 29 April 2015 at 3:47pm Reply

    I agree that the tier system of booking makes it hardly worth being a low tier friend. In the past I was able to get tickets for In Rehearsal and In Conversation . Obviously all requests can't be honoured but it does get less and less. I can't find out how to get a ticket for Class. Somehow got one for recent class, only 8 dancers to start and only 4 by the end. Poor example to group of schoolchildren to see dancer consult her mobile phone frequently! Also poor to see 'teacher' not bothering to correct faults or help dancers. However many thanks for all that is done to listen to our comments and help us get some value for our membership! The time might have come when you have too many friends!

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