The Anonymous Widower

Is Opera and Ballet Elitist?

The question has to be asked after last night and my visit to the O2.

In my view it was a serious experiment to try to sell ballet to people, who would not normally go and it has been reported as such. Here’s Arlene Phillips, saying that ballet is for everyone.

But if it was so important, why is it that only the Independent seems to published a review this morning?

Perhaps those that feel very seriously  about ballet think that the O2 is rather beneath it.

I think that this might be the problem.  Those that go regularly, often subsidised in their corporate seats want to keep it not elitist but exclusive!

Here’s a few thoughts.

My mother was a humble comptometer operator in the Accounts Department of Reeves in Dalston before the Second World War.  She and her friends regularly went to the ballet and the opera. Would the typical office worker on the equivalent salary to my mother be able to afford a weekly visit to opera or ballet now?

I was once at about the age of sixteen at White Hart Lane to see Spurs play Arsenal. It must have been after Spurs had disbanded their band, as the Metropolitan Police Band were playing before the match and at half time. At half-time, one of the band put down his instrument and immaculately performed a serious operatic work. The performance was very good and totally unexpected and he got a tumultuous response from the probably 50,000 or so in the ground. So when people say that the common people don’t appreciate opera, are they are putting forward the collective view to preserve the exclusivity?

One of the best theatrical performances C and I ever saw, was a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar by the Italian Youth Theatre in the theatre at Taormina in Sicily.

June 18, 2011 - Posted by | World | , ,


  1. The cost of ballet lessons for smal children might be part of the reason people dont appreciate/understand ballet. It is not just the cost of lessons it is the cost of the various bits of kits – several different types of shoes, various different coloured leotards etc. Plus up here a lot of the ballet schools hire places such as London Palladium for shoes, at great expense to parents for tickets and for transport and accommodation – they are sometimes rather pompous and when parents and dance teacher say that their children have danced at the London Palladium, people dont realise it is because they paid to the hire the place.

    If people arent learning about ballet as children or through their children, will be less inclined to pay a fortune to watch it!

    I didnt do ballet as a child, and my girls didnt either – they did ballroom, one did circus skills, and one was a member of the local youth theatre. If I went to a ballet I wouldnt have the faintest clue what was happening. As for opera, I would be fine if it was in English, but I dont know any other language well enough to follow the storyline.

    Comment by liz | June 18, 2011 | Reply

  2. I am the third daughter of a wonderful mechanic…and a cook…and I did go to dance lessons…did ballroom, theatre, tap, ballet….and somewhere are the medals i won. The barre exercises were very useful when my leg was newly out of plaster….to strengthen and regain suppleness. Even at my advanced years…you can tell I was a dancer…the shape of my legs is the proof……(or so I am told).
    The dance has helped me a lot through the years. Yes I can Military two step with the best of them…and my sailor breaks are still as sharp as ever…..

    I do still see one of my former dance class friends….we both have too much snow on the roof….but a friendship that has lasted since we were little more than toddlers…..she was also train bearer to the local May queen in the Year after me….

    Yes I would like to see more live ballet…but Barnsley doesnt have the theatre or the potential audience. Can get some delightul ballet some times on Sky Arts……but its not as good as live…..

    Apricot (cleaning out cupboards and drawers again)

    Comment by Janet Woodward | June 18, 2011 | Reply

    • I never did any dancing except the country sort at school. Do they still do the Gay Gordons or has it been changed to something more PC?

      I did find after the stroke, that all of old health and safety training came in hasndy, when learning to walk properly again.

      Comment by AnonW | June 18, 2011 | Reply

  3. This kind of bears out my argument about if people dont learn about ballet as a child, they dont tend to go to watch ballet as an adult.

    Perhaps the answer is to add ballet to the national curriculum

    Comment by liz | June 18, 2011 | Reply

    • I think that it would be a good idea to add more dance and music in general to the curriciulum. Dance after all is a good form of exercise and I don’t think it’s banned in many places.

      Comment by AnonW | June 18, 2011 | Reply

  4. they are cutting dance and music, not adding it, which is a pity

    Comment by liz | June 19, 2011 | Reply

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