The Royal Opera House (ROH) is throwing open its doors this September for a programme of art, opera and ballet as part of Open House London, the Covent Garden-based opera house has announced.
Taking place over the weekend of 3-4 September, the event will offer visitors the opportunity to experience one of the world’s most famous theatres for free. A specially curated, self-guided walk with art exhibits, displays and pop-up performances will take visitors into the worlds of opera and ballet. Along the way, they will learn about the iconic building, enjoy some of the remarkable front-of-house spaces and see stunning works of art from David Hockney and Tacita Dean.
Booking isn’t necessary, so visitors can turn up on either day, at any time between 10.30am and 4.30pm. Beginning at the recently refurbished main entrance on Bow Street, the self-guided walk will take participants via the grand staircase and legendary Crush Room, through the stunning Paul Hamlyn Hall, and up to the top of the theatre for a chance to see inside a working ballet studio. There, a film featuring highlights from some of the Royal Ballet’s best-loved productions will be on show.
There will be short musical recitals in the Paul Hamlyn Hall performed every hour between 11am and 4pm on both days. These will include recitals from tenor Alan Pingarron, as well as special performances from current and former singers of the Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artists’ Programme.
David Hockney’s portrait of Sir David Webster, a former general administrator of the Royal Opera House, will be on display in the main entrance foyer. The painting was recently sold by the Royal Opera House as part of its financial recovery campaign at the height of the pandemic, and the organisation stated that it is “grateful to David Ross for allowing us to hang it in our beautiful front-of-house spaces as part of this event”.
In the Paul Hamlyn Hall, visitors will see Tacita Dean’s original artwork for Inferno from Wayne McGregor’s eagerly anticipated Royal Ballet production of The Dante Project, which receives its world premiere in October. The 12-metre-long chalk-on-blackboard drawing, entitled Inferno, 2019, was created for the opening act of the ballet based on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, and will mark Dean’s first experience designing sets and costumes for the stage.
Jillian Barker, director of learning and participation at the Royal Opera House, commented: “It is a wonderful feeling to see the spaces of the Royal Opera House once again light up as people return to our iconic Covent Garden home. We can’t wait to immerse visitors in the worlds of ballet and opera, showcase our proud history and tell the story of the community of artists and craftspeople that make it one of the most famous theatres in the world.”
Even though Covid-19 restrictions have been relaxed across England since 19 July, safety measures remain in place throughout the opera house to ensure the wellbeing of all visitors and staff. These include enhanced cleaning and ventilation, regular anti-viral fogging and strict staff protocols, with mask-wearing strongly encouraged.
This event at the Royal Opera House is part of Open House London. This annual event takes place every September and aims to give the public access to architecture and buildings they are normally locked out of. It comprises a mixed programme of guided and non-guided walks, talks, virtual tours and more of iconic London buildings or parts of buildings that are usually shut to the public. This year it runs for a full week. See the Open House website for more details.
Visitors to the Royal Opera House will be able to see parts of the building usually closed to the public as part of Open House London this September.