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Bringing opera to the people

September 11, 2003|Chris Pasles

British businessman and impresario Raymond Gubbay, who has produced a series of successful opera evenings at London's Royal Albert Hall, has announced plans to create a third, full-time "popular opera" company in the English capital, one that will not rely on government subsidies, as do the Royal Opera House and the English National Opera.

Gubbay, 56, has called those companies -- which receive state subsidies of approximately $127 million -- wasteful. According to British media reports, his troupe will make its debut next April at the Savoy Theatre as a joint venture with the Savoy Theatre Group and will keep ticket prices low, partly by avoiding big-name singers. The top ticket price is expected to be about $80, compared with the ENO's $93 and the Royal's $270.

The company plans to present popular repertory, such as Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" and Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," in English. Gubbay's critics say that it is easy to sell such popular works.

-- Chris Pasles

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