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Who sat in K15?

Over the course of a week, we spoke to a diverse range of people who enjoyed the view from seat K15 in the Orchestra Stalls.

By Emma Baker (ROH Magazine Editor)

26 January 2015 at 5.00pm | 10 Comments

Andrée Hornby, 78
Retired set and costume designer. Saw Ceremony of Innocence/The Age of Anxiety/Aeternum.

‘I was first brought to the Royal Opera House by my godmother on my ninth birthday, when we saw The Sleeping Beauty designed by Oliver Messel. Afterwards I told my godmother that when I grew up I wanted to be either a ballet dancer, or a designer. I eventually trained as a set and costume designer at the Central School and, one night, my tutor met Oliver Messel at a party. He was looking for someone to paint some costumes for him and my tutor recommended me. I worked with Oliver Messel several times after that. I always sit in the Orchestra Stalls and much prefer it now it’s on a rake. The last ballet I saw was Ceremony of Innocence/The Age of Anxiety/Aeternum – I really enjoyed Aeternum. I try and come and see most ballets here.’

Amy Hudson, 10
Schoolgirl, attended Schools’ Matinee of Ceremony of Innocence/The Age of Anxiety/Aeternum

‘This is my first time at the Royal Opera House and I’m really enjoying it. I like everything about the ballet, but I really enjoy watching the dancers doing their lifts. I love the scenery for The Age of Anxiety as well. I can’t wait to come back again with my school.’

Kevin O’Hare
Director of The Royal Ballet, sat in K15 during Don Quixote rehearsals

‘I like to sit in K15 as it’s really in the middle of the auditorium, so I can see the whole stage. It’s the perfect place to check on the lighting and the scenery and – being so close to the orchestra pit – the orchestra too. It’s also close enough to the stage that I can run on if I’m needed during rehearsals.’

Pamela Kissman
Dr Anthony Pike, her late brother, has his name on a plaque on K15

‘I like to think of him sitting there still, watching everything. He loved classical ballet: the history, the skill, the music, the theatre, the beauty of it. He wanted to contribute to the Royal Opera House so, on his death in 2009, a portion of his estate went towards pointe shoes for Royal Ballet dancers and also on a seat plaque in the auditorium. When I come now, it’s not always to sit in K15, but I love to be able to remember him coming here and imagine him sitting there.’

Claire Dissaux, 42
Premium 1 Friend, saw Ceremony of Innocence/The Age of Anxiety/Aeternum

‘I like seat K15 as it is close enough to the stage and close to the centre too. Attending rehearsals or a Sitzprobe has helped me understand opera better and a backstage tour has made me more familiar with the work of the Royal Opera House, as did the Queen’s Jubilee Gala. I have fond memories of many productions, particularly DGV: Danse à grande vitesse, not only for the star performers (Natalia Osipova, Marianela Nuñez, Edward Watson…) but also for the choreography by Christopher Wheeldon – I wish I could see it again. Dialogues des Carmélites left me speechless; it was beautiful singing and the austere staging was perfectly appropriate. The last scene in particular was so contained and yet so heartbreaking. I remember meeting a perfect stranger in the hall who felt the urge to tell me how moved she was. It seems I come to see Tosca every year now… there is always a reason. In 2014 it was to hear Roberto Alagna and I was not disappointed.’

This article was originally published in the Royal Opera House Magazine, received quarterly by the Friends of Covent Garden.

Find out more about naming a seat.

By Emma Baker (ROH Magazine Editor)

26 January 2015 at 5.00pm

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged history, legacy, name a seat, supporting

This article has 10 comments

  1. Elizabeth Page responded on 26 January 2015 at 5:12pm Reply

    What a fantastic idea to interview people from different walks of life, all different ages with their own stories to tell. More of this idea, please!

  2. You really fascinate me with all the actions that you do to get closer to your audience and listen it. I wish we had something like this in the theaters of Buenos Aires

  3. Rachel responded on 27 January 2015 at 10:56pm Reply

    Fantastic idea!

  4. Samuel responded on 29 January 2015 at 11:47am Reply

    Why has Emma Baker not included Kevin O’Hare's age in this article? I believe that he is 49 years old (turning 50 later this year). It would be interesting to hear from audience members aged between 30 and 40 as well. (I will stand corrected if Pamela Kissman is this age.)

    The Royal Opera House serves those under 30 very well, with great education programmes for the very young and a special Young Friends scheme if you are under 30. But when you are 'past it' at just 31, yet not elderly enough to be considered a viable legacy prospect, the Royal Opera House seems less keen to engage. I was lucky enough to see Ceremony of Innocence/The Age of Anxiety/Aeternum on the first night. The stage was filled with lots of fantastic dancers in their 30s and it was thrilling to see what great artists of my own age can achieve. Don’t get me wrong, I love Royal Opera House performers, and welcome audience-members, of all ages. I just wish that Emma Baker and others would not completely ignore audience members in their 30s when writing for the Royal Opera House.

    I can't wait for Onegin next week, under the baton of Dominic Grier and with the exceptional Sarah Lamb as Tatiana. Both Grier and Lamb are my age and it has been wonderful to follow their careers over the past 10 years, from Grier's time as a Jette Parker Young Artist and Lamb's start with the Royal Ballet as a First Soloist. In fact, Onegin marked my very first visit to the Royal Opera House when I was in my 20s and, believe me, I was hooked!

  5. lablady responded on 29 January 2015 at 6:18pm Reply

    A really fascinating idea. I would love to hear more from other seats.

  6. Lucy Braga responded on 30 January 2015 at 8:43am Reply

    This is a really interesting article! I love the Royal Opera House and recently came to the Royal Balket with my daughter for the first time! It was wonderful! Keep up the great work and thank you.

  7. Bumble responded on 30 January 2015 at 5:25pm Reply

    Would love to sit in K15. How about interviewing people who can only just scrape together enough to sit in the nose bleed section of the amphitheatre. Why are so many ROH seats completely out of each to so many people?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 30 January 2015 at 5:37pm

      It's worth having a look around the auditorium - tickets aren't necessarily as expensive as you may think. This Season more than half of all tickets are £55 or under, and more than 200,000 tickets are less than £25. More than half of ballet tickets are £40 or below.
      These aren't necessarily in the Amphitheatre either - In the next few months Box seats are priced from £20.


      ROH Content Producer

  8. Ornicar responded on 31 January 2015 at 1:44pm Reply

    Great idea these interviews, thanks!

  9. Carolyn Barrett responded on 6 February 2015 at 4:42pm Reply

    I don't think I ever sat in K 15, but as a child my father bought tickets from Keith Prowse, and we always had the same stalls seats -- row N? As a coincidence, when my husband took me once, we ended up in the same seats. I live in Cornwall now, a bit far to come, but the ROH is always very special.

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