The Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera

The Royal Opera is one of the world’s leading opera companies and the most important in London. The current music director is Antonio Pappano with Kasper Holten the Director of Opera. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House is shared with the Royal Ballet and the company has a large permanent chorus.

The company presents around 18-20 different operas a year with no single focus, albeit a slight preference towards 19th Century works. Audience tastes lie somewhere between the USA and Europe, strongly traditional productions mixing with starkly contemporary ones. The average audience age is high but that is somewhat dictated by the inevitably high price of the tickets.

Marina Poplavskaya in Otello
Marina Poplavskaya as Desdemona in the Royal Opera's Otello © Catherine Ashmore

The Royal Opera have an in-house programme for young performers, the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. This gives young singers and directors full-time contracts for two years, during which they take on small roles in main stage productions (and cover much larger ones) whilst furthering their musical development. It has been hugely successful with many going on to international careers including Marina Poplavskaya, Ekaterina Gubanova and Matthew Rose to name but three.

The Royal Ballet

The Royal Ballet was founded in 1931 by Dame Ninette de Valois and has been one of the world’s top companies throughout its existence. They play a prominent role at the Royal Opera House, sharing the stage each week with the opera company though seldom at the same performances. The Royal Ballet is led by Kevin O'Hare with Wayne McGregor (originally a contemporary choreographer) the Resident Choreographer.

Balancing a rich heritage with more modern fare, The Royal Ballet are not infrequently accused of safe programming (somewhat justifiably). A wealth of Swan Lakes and Nutcrackers every season with new work largely kept to 2-3 new short ballets a year. This was somewhat remedied with the successful premieres of Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 2011 and The Winter's Tale, 2014 but the emphasis is still largely on the classics. The company presents around 7-8 full length works and 5-6 mixed bills a year sharing the main stage with the opera company.

Lauren Cuthbertson as Alice
Lauren Cuthbertson as Alice in the Royal Ballet's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland © Johan Persson

FAQ: Attending the Royal Opera House

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FAQ: Cheap Tickets!

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