Another way to see opera more cheaply than usual (although not always cheaper than a standing ticket at the Royal Opera House!) is to go and watch it at the cinema. Some people get a bit sniffy about seeing opera at the cinema, but personally, I’ve always found it an absorbing, and engaging, experience. Crucially, you get a unique view which you simply could not pay for in the opera house, however expensive your ticket.
You can also, obviously, have popcorn and wine throughout. Another plus.
Glyndebourne was the original pioneer of bringing opera to the silver screen, and the Royal Opera House and the New York Metropolitan Opera have followed suit. Operas appear at many cinemas these days, and always reliably feature in the Screen Arts series at Picturehouse Cinemas.
Screen Arts tickets can be expensive (up to £30), but get cheaper (£12) if you become a Picturehouse Member (£55 per annum, or £15 for students). Please NB that, although a Picturehouse Membership entitles you to four free tickets per year, you can’t see the Screen Arts showings on a freebie. Still, the discount makes buying membership worth it if you are planning to see 2-5 operas a year this way. Prices vary slightly from showing to showing.
For die-hard opera fans, the cinema route is ideal for
- seeing a performance again, when you’ve already seen the “real thing” and want to go back a second time, but can’t get tickets
- seeing a performance simply because the whole run /the affordable tickets have sold out in the opera house, and the cinema is the next best way
- “filling in the gaps” of a performance season; e.g. of 6 Glyndebourne operas in the summer, see two from the stalls, one standing and the remaining three from the blissful comfort of a cinema chair
- seeing performances at opera houses which would be too expensive or difficult to get to in person (e.g. New York)
If you haven’t done it yet – give it a try! You might be pleasantly surprised!
You may also enjoy this article from Bachtrack about opera in the cinema.