Cher Public

Cold dead hands

The press department at the English National Opera is considering a revamp of the company’s press seating policy, perhaps offering to mainstream critics a single prime ticket instead of the pair of free ducats bestowed hitherto. This modest proposal has been met with a chorus of rage from the British press (not pictured)!

Groans Alexandra Coghlan of the Spectator:

Reviewing a show for most of us takes place after a day’s work – often a poorly paid one, in this profession. . . . Many of us regularly work 13- or 14-hour days, leaving for work in the morning and returning after the opera. This process is repeated multiple times a week. To take away second tickets not only isolates us from the typically – and crucially – social process of culture-going, but also from our partners and friends. Lose this anchor and you lose the long-term viability of the profession and with it the expertise and experience built up over many years’ work by critics.

In contrast to Coughlan’s gripping evocation of human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together and mass hysteria, Observer’s Fiona Maddocks takes a more humanistic approach:

There are so many reasons a second ticket is important. . . . Critics, none of us rich, can introduce newcomers to opera. It’s our passion. We’re the best advocates. Going with someone also normalises what can otherwise be a somewhat specialised activity. This decision may backfire. Expect a revolt.

But reliably prickly Rupert Christiansen in the Telegraph wins the palm for his mélange of outraged dignity and scarcely-veiled threats:

I am happy to come out with my hands up and make a full confession. Yes, that second ticket is a perk. So is the prime position that I am allotted in the auditorium, the free programme I receive, the occasional free glass of plonk in the interval and when I am visiting a far-flung summer festival, the gift of a buffet supper. . . .So I would suggest that ENO and Stuart Murphy currently need all the good will they can get, and that a second ticket for those who are constantly writing about its productions in publications that reach hundreds of thousands of readers is a sound investment that costs the organisation nothing. . . . ENO is just making itself look emptily vindictive by cocking a snook at those whose friendly understanding it should be courting.

La Cieca promises updates to this shocking account of human rights violations as they occur.

Photo: Alistair Muir