Royal Opera House

Last updated

Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House logo.jpg
Royal Opera House and ballerina.jpg
The Royal Opera House's Bow Street frontage with Plazzotta's statue, Young Dancer, in the foreground
Open street map central london.svg
Red pog.svg
Royal Opera House
Location within Central London
United Kingdom adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House (the United Kingdom)
Full nameThe Royal Opera House
Former namesTheatre Royal, Covent Garden (until 1892)
Address Bow Street
LocationLondon, WC2
Coordinates 51°30′46″N0°07′20″W / 51.5129°N 0.1222°W / 51.5129; -0.1222 Coordinates: 51°30′46″N0°07′20″W / 51.5129°N 0.1222°W / 51.5129; -0.1222
Public transit Underground no-text.svg Covent Garden
Bus: 6, 11, 14, 26, 59, 98, 139, 168, 176
OwnerRoyal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation
Designation Grade I [1]
Type Opera house
Genre(s) Classical
Capacity 2,256 (main auditorium)
Built1728–1732 (original building)
Opened7 December 1732;289 years ago (1732-12-07)
Architect Edward Shepherd (original building)
Edward Middleton Barry (current building)
Builder Lucas Brothers (current building)
The Royal Ballet
The Royal Opera

The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply Covent Garden, after a previous use of the site. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. The first theatre on the site, the Theatre Royal (1732), served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, the first season of operas, by George Frideric Handel, began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.


The current building is the third theatre on the site, following disastrous fires in 1808 and 1856 to previous buildings. [2] The façade, foyer, and auditorium date from 1858, but almost every other element of the present complex dates from an extensive reconstruction in the 1990s. The main auditorium seats 2,256 people, making it the third largest in London, and consists of four tiers of boxes and balconies and the amphitheatre gallery. The proscenium is 14.80 metres (48 ft 7 in) wide, with the stage of the same depth and 12.20 metres (40 ft 0 in) high. The main auditorium is a Grade I listed building. [3]


Davenant patent

"Rich's Glory": John Rich seemingly invades his new Covent Garden Theatre. (caricature by William Hogarth) Rich-Covent-Garden.jpg
"Rich's Glory": John Rich seemingly invades his new Covent Garden Theatre. (caricature by William Hogarth)

The foundation of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden lies in the letters patent awarded by Charles II to Sir William Davenant in 1662, allowing Davenant to operate one of only two patent theatre companies (The Duke's Company ) in London. The letters patent remained in the possession of the patentees' heirs until the 19th century. Their whereabouts were unknown for some time, but as of 2019 they are held in the Rosenbach Museum & Library, Philadelphia. [4] [5]

First theatre

The first theatre before the fire of 1808 Covert Garden Theatre edited.jpg
The first theatre before the fire of 1808

In 1728, John Rich, actor-manager of the Duke's Company at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre, commissioned The Beggar's Opera from John Gay. The success of this venture provided him with the capital to build the Theatre Royal (designed by Edward Shepherd) at the site of an ancient convent garden. Inigo Jones had developed part of this property in the 1630s with a piazza and St Paul's church (now known colloquially as the actors' church). In addition, a Royal Charter had created a fruit and vegetable market in the area, a market which survived in that location until 1974.

At the opening of the theatre on 7 December 1732, Rich was carried by his actors in procession into the building for its inaugural production of William Congreve's The Way of the World . [6]

During its first century, the theatre was operated primarily as a playhouse, with the Letters Patent granted by Charles II giving the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and Theatre Royal, Drury Lane exclusive rights to present spoken drama in London. Despite the frequent interchangeability between the two companies, competition was intense, and the companies often presented the same plays at the same time. Rich introduced pantomime to the repertoire, performing himself, under the stage name John Lun, as Harlequin. A tradition of seasonal pantomime continued at the modern theatre until 1939. [7]

In 1734, the theatre presented its first ballet, Pygmalion. [2] Marie Sallé discarded tradition and her corset and danced in diaphanous robes. [8] George Frideric Handel was named musical director of the company at Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1719, but his first season of opera for the theatre was not presented until 1734. His first opera was Il pastor fido, followed by Ariodante (1735), and the première of Alcina , and Atalanta the following year. In 1743 there was a royal performance of Messiah ; its success resulted in a tradition of Lenten oratorio performances. From 1735 until his death in 1759, Handel gave regular seasons at the theatre; many of his operas and oratorios were written for that venue or had their first London performances there. He bequeathed his organ to John Rich, and it was placed in a prominent position on the stage. It was among many valuable items lost in a fire that destroyed the theatre on 20 September 1808. In 1792 the architect Henry Holland rebuilt the auditorium; he expanded its capacity within the existing shell of the building. [9]

Second theatre

Satirical drawing, 1811, of the "Pigeon Holes" flanking the upper gallery Covent-garden-1.jpg
Satirical drawing, 1811, of the "Pigeon Holes" flanking the upper gallery
Auditorium of the second theatre, 1810 New Covent Garden Theatre Microcosm edited.jpg
Auditorium of the second theatre, 1810
Joseph Grimaldi, as Clown Joseph Grimaldi.jpg
Joseph Grimaldi, as Clown

Rebuilding began in December 1808, and the second Theatre Royal, Covent Garden (designed by Robert Smirke) opened on 18 September 1809 with a performance of Macbeth followed by a musical entertainment called The Quaker. [10] The actor-manager John Philip Kemble, raised seat prices to help recoup the cost of rebuilding and the cost of an increased ground rent introduced by the landowner, the Duke of Bedford, but the move was so unpopular that audiences disrupted performances by beating sticks, hissing, booing and dancing. The Old Price Riots lasted over two months, and the management was finally forced to accede to the audience's demands. [11]

During this time, entertainments were varied; opera and ballet were presented, but not exclusively. Kemble engaged a variety of acts, including the child performer Master Betty ; the great clown Joseph Grimaldi made his name at Covent Garden. Many famous actors of the day appeared at the theatre, including the tragediennes Sarah Siddons and Eliza O'Neill, the Shakespearean actors William Macready, Edmund Kean and his son Charles. On 25 March 1833 Edmund Kean collapsed on stage while playing Othello, and died two months later. [12] [2]

In 1806, the pantomime clown Joseph Grimaldi (The Garrick of Clowns) had performed his greatest success in Harlequin and Mother Goose; or the Golden Egg at Covent Garden, and this was subsequently revived, at the new theatre. Grimaldi was an innovator: his performance as Joey introduced the clown to the world, building on the existing role of Harlequin derived from the Commedia dell'arte . His father had been ballet-master at Drury Lane, and his physical comedy, his ability to invent visual tricks and buffoonery, and his ability to poke fun at the audience were extraordinary. [13]

Early pantomimes were performed as mimes accompanied by music, but as Music hall became popular, Grimaldi introduced the pantomime dame to the theatre and was responsible for the tradition of audience singing. By 1821 dance and clowning had taken such a physical toll on Grimaldi that he could barely walk, and he retired from the theatre. [14] By 1828, he was penniless; Drury Lane held a benefit concert for him after Covent Garden refused. [15]

The theatre in the 1820s Covent Garden Theatre 1827-28.jpg
The theatre in the 1820s
Harlequin's escape into the bottle (print) An Apology To The Town, For Himself And The Bottle.png
Harlequin's escape into the bottle (print)

In 1817, bare flame gaslight had replaced the former candles and oil lamps that lighted the Covent Garden stage. [16] This was an improvement, but in 1837 Macready employed limelight in the theatre for the first time, during a performance of a pantomime, Peeping Tom of Coventry. Limelight used a block of quicklime heated by an oxygen and hydrogen flame. This allowed the use of spotlights to highlight performers on the stage. [17]

The Theatres Act 1843 broke the patent theatres' monopoly of drama. At that time Her Majesty's Theatre in the Haymarket was the main centre of ballet and opera but after a dispute with the management in 1846 Michael Costa, conductor at Her Majesty's, transferred his allegiance to Covent Garden, bringing most of the company with him. The auditorium was completely remodeled after an 1846 fire, during the following 1846–47 seasons, the company performed at the Lyceum Theatre. [18] The theatre reopened as the Royal Italian Opera on 6 April 1847 with a performance of Rossini's Semiramide . [19]

In 1852, Louis Antoine Jullien the French eccentric composer of light music and conductor presented an opera of his own composition, Pietro il Grande. Five performances were given of the 'spectacular', including live horses on the stage and very loud music. Critics considered it a complete failure and Jullien was ruined and fled to America. [20] [21]

The fire of 5 March 1856 Fire of 1856 at Covent Garden Theatre.jpeg
The fire of 5 March 1856

Costa and his successors presented all operas in Italian, even those originally written in French, German or English, until 1892, when Gustav Mahler presented the debut of Wagner's Ring cycle at Covent Garden. [22] [23] The word "Italian" was then quietly dropped from the name of the opera house. [24]

On 5 March 1856, the theatre was again destroyed by fire. [25]

Third theatre

Work on a third theatre, designed by Edward Middleton Barry, [2] started in 1857, and the new building, which still remains as the nucleus of the present theatre, was built by Lucas Brothers [26] and opened on 15 May 1858 with a performance of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots .

The Royal English Opera company under the management of Louisa Pyne and William Harrison, made their last performance at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on 11 December 1858 and took up residence at Covent Garden on 20 December 1858 with the premiere of Michael Balfe's Satanella [27] – the first opera to have its world premiere at the new theatre – and continued there until 1865. [28]

The theatre became the Royal Opera House (ROH) in 1892, and the number of French and German works offered increased. Winter and summer seasons of opera and ballet were given, and the building was also used for pantomime, recitals and political meetings.

During the First World War, the theatre was requisitioned by the Ministry of Works for use as a furniture repository. [25]

From 1934 to 1936, Geoffrey Toye was managing director, working alongside the Artistic Director, Sir Thomas Beecham. Despite early successes, Toye and Beecham eventually fell out, and Toye resigned. [29]

During the Second World War the ROH became a dance hall. [2] There was a possibility that it would remain so after the war but, following lengthy negotiations, the music publishers Boosey & Hawkes acquired the lease of the building. David Webster was appointed General Administrator, and Sadler's Wells Ballet was invited to become the resident ballet company. The Covent Garden Opera Trust was created and laid out plans "to establish Covent Garden as the national centre of opera and ballet, employing British artists in all departments, wherever that is consistent with the maintenance of the best possible standards ..." [30]

The Royal Opera House reopened on 20 February 1946 with a performance of The Sleeping Beauty in an extravagant new production designed by Oliver Messel. [25] Webster, with his music director Karl Rankl, immediately began to build a resident company. In December 1946, they shared their first production, Purcell's The Fairy-Queen , with the ballet company. On 14 January 1947, the Covent Garden Opera Company gave its first performance of Bizet's Carmen .

Before the grand opening, the Royal Opera House presented one of the Robert Mayer Children's concerts on Saturday, 9 February 1946.

Opera at the Royal Opera House after 1945

Ballet at the Royal Opera House after 1945

Reconstruction from the 1980s forward

The Royal Opera House, Bow Street Facade, after reconstruction Royal Opera House at night.jpg
The Royal Opera House, Bow Street Façade, after reconstruction

Several renovations had taken place to parts of the house in the 1960s, including improvements to the amphitheatre but the theatre clearly needed a major overhaul. In 1975 the Labour government gave land adjacent to the Royal Opera House for a long-overdue modernisation, refurbishment, and extension. In the early 1980s the first part of a major renovation included an extension to the rear of the theatre on the James Street corner. The development added two new ballet studios, offices, a Chorus Rehearsal Room and the Opera Rehearsal room. Dressing rooms were also added.

The Royal Opera House auditorium, stage to the left ROH auditorium 003.jpg
The Royal Opera House auditorium, stage to the left
Facing the stage from the Amphitheatre ROH auditorium 001.jpg
Facing the stage from the Amphitheatre

By 1995, sufficient funds from the Arts Lottery through Arts Council England [31] and private fundraising had been raised to enable the company to embark upon a major £213 million reconstruction of the building by Carillion, [32] which took place between 1997 and 1999, under the chairmanship of Sir Angus Stirling. This involved the demolition of almost the whole site including several adjacent buildings to make room for a major increase in the size of the complex. The auditorium itself remained, but well over half of the complex is new.

The design team was led by Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones of Dixon Jones BDP as architects. The acoustic designers were Rob Harris and Jeremy Newton of Arup Acoustics. The building engineer was Arup with Stanhope as developer. [33]

The Bridge of Aspiration connects the Royal Ballet School (left) to the Royal Opera House (right) on the 4th floor. The bridge was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects Floral Street, Covent Garden - - 1550247.jpg
The Bridge of Aspiration connects the Royal Ballet School (left) to the Royal Opera House (right) on the 4th floor. The bridge was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects

The new building has the same traditional horseshoe-shaped auditorium as before, but with greatly improved technical, rehearsal, office, and educational facilities. Additionally, a new studio theatre, the Linbury, as well as more public space was created. The inclusion of the adjacent old Floral Hall, which had fallen into disrepair and was used as a scenery store before redevelopment, created a new and extensive public gathering place. The venue is now claimed by the ROH to be the most modern theatre facility in Europe.

Surtitles, projected onto a screen above the proscenium, have been used for all opera performances since they were introduced for school matinees in 1983/4 season. Since the reopening of the theatre in 1999 an electronic libretto system provides translations onto small video screens for some seats, and additional monitors and screens are to be introduced to other parts of the house.

In 2014 design work, known as the Open Up Project, began with the aim of improving the entrances, lobby areas and the Linbury Theatre. [34] [35] As part of the Open Up Project, IQ Projects were tasked with the renovation of the upper floor bar area and restaurant utilising various elements of bespoke glazing. [36]

In October 2020, the BBC reported that the Royal Opera House has lost 60% of its income as a result of restrictions implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a consequence, the 1971 "Portrait of Sir David Webster" by David Hockney, which had hung in the opera house for several decades, was put up for auction at Christie's. It eventually sold for £12.8 million. The funds raised from the sale were needed to ensure the survival of the institution. "Significant redundancies" and an appeal for public donations have also been made. In addition, the opera house has applied for a loan to the Culture Recovery Fund. [37]


Paul Hamlyn Hall

Exterior of the Paul Hamlyn Hall Royal Opera House - Floral Hall - Bow Street - London - 240404.jpg
Exterior of the Paul Hamlyn Hall

The Paul Hamlyn Hall is a large iron and glass structure adjacent to, and with direct access to, the main opera house building. The hall now acts as the atrium and main public area of the opera house, with a champagne bar, restaurant and other hospitality services, and also providing access to the main auditorium at all levels.

The building was formerly known as Floral Hall. It was originally built by the Opera House to house a flower market (also selling fruits and vegetables), hence the name. It was designed by Edward Middleton Barry and opened in 1860. After being used as a concert hall, it became part of the Covent Garden Market in 1887. A fire broke out in the building in 1956, after which it sat derelict. It was acquired by the Opera House in 1977 and used as storage space. [38]

The redevelopment of the Floral Hall as part of the 1990s redevelopment project involved lifting up the cast iron structure to accommodate new public areas for the opera house underneath. The southern side of the hall now connected with another building, so the cast iron south portico was dismantled and rebuilt in Borough Market, where it is separately Grate II heritage listed. [39]

The redevelopment had gone ahead on the strength of a pledge of £10m from the philanthropist Alberto Vilar and for a number of years, it was known as the Vilar Floral Hall; however Vilar failed to make good his pledge. As a result, the name was changed in September 2005 to the Paul Hamlyn Hall, after the opera house received a donation of £10m from the estate of Paul Hamlyn, towards its education and development programmes. [40]

As well as acting as a main public area for performances in the main auditorium, the Paul Hamlyn Hall is also used for hosting a number of events, including private functions, dances, exhibitions, concerts, and workshops.

Linbury Studio Theatre

The Linbury Studio Theatre is a flexible, secondary performance space, constructed below ground level within the Royal Opera House. It has retractable raked seating and a floor which can be raised or lowered to form a studio floor, a raised stage, or a stage with orchestra pit. The theatre can accommodate up to 400 patrons and host a variety of different events. It has been used for private functions, traditional theatre shows, and concerts, as well as community and educational events, product launches, dinners and exhibitions, etc., and is one of the most technologically advanced performance venues in London with its own public areas, including a bar and cloakroom. [41] [42]

The Linbury is most notable for hosting performances of experimental and independent dance and music, by independent companies and as part of the ROH2, the contemporary producing arm of the Royal Opera House. The Linbury Studio Theatre regularly stages performances by the Royal Ballet School and also hosts the Young British Dancer of the Year competition.

The venue was constructed as part of the 90s redevelopment of the Royal Opera House. It is named in recognition of donations made by the Linbury Trust towards the redevelopment. The Trust is operated by Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover and his wife Anya Linden, a former dancer with the Royal Ballet. The name Linbury is derived from the names Linden and Sainsbury. [43] It was opened in 1999 with a collaboration from three Croydon secondary schools (including Coloma Convent Girls' School and Edenham High School) in an original performance called About Face. [44]

Royal Opera House, Manchester

In 2008 the Royal Opera House and Manchester City Council began planning stages a new development known as Royal Opera House, Manchester. The proposal would have seen the Palace Theatre in Manchester refurbished, to create a theatre capable of staging productions by both the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera. It was intended that the Royal Opera House would take residence of the theatre for an annual 18-week season, staging 16 performances by the Royal Opera, 28 performances by the Royal Ballet and other small-scale productions. [45] [46] A year later The Lowry sent an open letter to the then Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Ben Bradshaw, Arts Council England, Manchester City Council and the ROH, calling for the scheme, in its current form, to be scrapped. [47] In 2010 it was announced that the project was being shelved as part of larger arts-funding cuts. [48] [49]

High House Production Park (High House, Purfleet)

ROH's Manoukian Production Facility at High House, Purfleet Royal Opera House production facility.JPG
ROH's Manoukian Production Facility at High House, Purfleet

The Royal Opera House opened a scenery-making facility for their operas and ballets at High House, Purfleet, Essex, on 6 December 2010. The building was designed by Nicholas Hare Architects. [50] The East of England Development Agency, which partly funded developments on the park, notes that "the first phase includes the Royal Opera House's Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop and Community areas". [50]

The Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre, also designed by Nicholas Hare Associates, opened in September 2015, and provides a costume-making facility for the Royal Opera House and a training centre for students of costume-making from South Essex College. The building also houses the Royal Opera House's collection of historically important costumes.

Other elements at High House, Purfleet, include The Backstage Centre, a new technical theatre and music training centre which is currently run by the National College for Creative Industries and was formally opened by Creative & Cultural Skills in March 2013, alongside renovated farm buildings. Acme studios opened a complex of 43 artist studios in Summer 2013. [51]

Other uses

In addition to opera and ballet performances, the Royal Opera House has hosted a number of other events including:

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Covent Garden</span> District in London, England

Covent Garden is a district in London, on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St Martin's Lane and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit-and-vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist site, and with the Royal Opera House, itself known as "Covent Garden". The district is divided by the main thoroughfare of Long Acre, north of which is given over to independent shops centred on Neal's Yard and Seven Dials, while the south contains the central square with its street performers and most of the historical buildings, theatres and entertainment facilities, including the London Transport Museum and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Arne</span> 18th-century British composer

Thomas Augustine Arne was an English composer. He is best known for his patriotic song "Rule, Britannia!" and the song "A-Hunting We Will Go", the latter composed for a 1777 production of The Beggar's Opera, which has since become popular as a folk song and a nursery rhyme. Arne was a leading British theatre composer of the 18th century, working at the West End's Drury Lane and Covent Garden. He wrote many operatic entertainments for the London theatres and pleasure gardens, as well as concertos, sinfonias, and sonatas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">English National Opera</span> Opera company based in London

English National Opera (ENO) is an opera company based in London, resident at the London Coliseum in St Martin's Lane. It is one of the two principal opera companies in London, along with The Royal Opera. ENO's productions are sung in English.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sadler's Wells Theatre</span> Theatre in London, England

Sadler's Wells Theatre is a performing arts venue in Clerkenwell, London, England located on Rosebery Avenue next to New River Head. The present-day theatre is the sixth on the site since 1683. It consists of two performance spaces: a 1,500-seat main auditorium and the Lilian Baylis Studio, with extensive rehearsal rooms and technical facilities also housed within the site. Sadler's Wells is renowned as one of the world's leading dance venues. As well as a stage for visiting companies, the theatre is also a producing house, with a number of associated artists and companies that produce original works for the theatre. Sadler's Wells is also responsible for the management of the Peacock Theatre in the West End, during times not used by the London School of Economics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Rich (producer)</span>

John Rich (1692–1761) was an important director and theatre manager in 18th-century London. He opened The New Theatre at Lincoln's Inn Fields (1714), which he managed until he opened the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden (1732). He managed Covent Garden until 1761, putting on ever more lavish productions. He introduced pantomime to the English stage and played a dancing and mute Harlequin himself from 1717 to 1760 under the stage name of "Lun." Rich's version of the servant character, Arlecchino, moved away from the poor, disheveled, loud, and crude character, to a colorfully-dressed, silent Harlequin, performing fanciful tricks, dances and magic. The British idea of the Harlequin character was heavily inspired by Rich's idea of a silent character. Rich's choice of being a silent character was influenced by his unappealing voice, which he was well aware of.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Her Majesty's Theatre</span> Theatre in London

Her Majesty's Theatre is a West End theatre situated on Haymarket in the City of Westminster, London. The present building was designed by Charles J. Phipps and was constructed in 1897 for actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who established the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at the theatre. In the early decades of the 20th century, Tree produced spectacular productions of Shakespeare and other classical works, and the theatre hosted premieres by major playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw, J. M. Synge, Noël Coward and J. B. Priestley. Since the First World War, the wide stage has made the theatre suitable for large-scale musical productions, and the theatre has accordingly specialised in hosting musicals. The theatre has been home to record-setting musical theatre runs, notably the First World War sensation Chu Chin Chow and the current production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, which previously played continuously at Her Majesty's between 1986 and March 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">West End theatre</span> Term for mainstream professional theatre staged in and near the West End of London

West End theatre is mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres in and near the West End of London. Along with New York City's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. Seeing a West End show is a common tourist activity in London. Famous screen actors, British and international alike, frequently appear on the London stage.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joseph Grimaldi</span> English actor, comedian and dancer

Joseph Grimaldi was an English actor, comedian and dancer, who became the most popular English entertainer of the Regency era. In the early 1800s, he expanded the role of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British pantomimes, notably at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden theatres. He became so dominant on the London comic stage that the harlequinade role of Clown became known as "Joey", and both the nickname and Grimaldi's whiteface make-up design were, and still are, used by other types of clowns. Grimaldi originated catchphrases such as "Here we are again!", which continue to feature in modern pantomimes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Theatre Royal, Drury Lane</span> West End theatre in Covent Garden, London

The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, commonly known as Drury Lane, is a West End theatre and Grade I listed building in Covent Garden, London, England. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building is the most recent in a line of four theatres which were built at the same location, the earliest of which dated back to 1663, making it the oldest theatre site in London still in use. According to the author Peter Thomson, for its first two centuries, Drury Lane could "reasonably have claimed to be London's leading theatre". For most of that time, it was one of a handful of patent theatres, granted monopoly rights to the production of "legitimate" drama in London.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Royal Opera</span> Opera company in London

The Royal Opera is a British opera company based in central London, resident at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Along with the English National Opera, it is one of the two principal opera companies in London. Founded in 1946 as the Covent Garden Opera Company, the company had that title until 1968. It brought a long annual season and consistent management to a house that had previously hosted short seasons under a series of impresarios. Since its inception, it has shared the Royal Opera House with the dance company now known as The Royal Ballet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Theatre Museum</span>

The Theatre Museum in the Covent Garden district of London, England, was the United Kingdom's national museum of the performing arts. It was a branch of the UK's national museum of applied arts, the Victoria and Albert Museum. It opened in 1974 and closed in 2007, being replaced by new galleries at the V&A's main site in South Kensington.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Augustus Harris</span>

Sir Augustus Henry Glossop Harris was a British actor, impresario, and dramatist, a dominant figure in the West End theatre of the 1880s and 1890s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Theatre Royal, Glasgow</span>

The Theatre Royal is the oldest theatre in Glasgow and the longest running in Scotland. Located at 282 Hope Street, its front door was originally round the corner in Cowcaddens Street. It currently accommodates 1,541 people and is owned by Scottish Opera. The theatre opened in 1867, adopting the name Theatre Royal two years later. It is also the birthplace of Howard & Wyndham Ltd, owners and managers of theatres in Scotland and England until the 1970s, created by its chairman Baillie Michael Simons in 1895. It was Simons who as a cultural entrepreneur of his day also promoted the building of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and Glasgow's International Exhibitions of 1888 and 1901.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kenneth MacMillan</span> British ballet dancer and choreographer (1929–1992)

Sir Kenneth MacMillan was a British ballet dancer and choreographer who was artistic director of the Royal Ballet in London between 1970 and 1977, and its principal choreographer from 1977 until his death. Earlier he had served as director of ballet for the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. He was also associate director of the American Ballet Theatre from 1984 to 1989, and artistic associate of the Houston Ballet from 1989 to 1992.

William Reeve was an English theatre composer and organist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Topsy Sinden</span>

Harriet Augusta Sinden (1877–1950), known professionally as Topsy Sinden, was an English dancer, actress and singer. She was best known for her performances in Edwardian musical comedy and pantomime, both in London and on tour. Sinden was an accomplished tap dancer and skirt dancer.

ROH2 was the contemporary arm of the Royal Opera House until 2012, commissioning and producing dance and contemporary opera works in the Linbury Studio Theatre, Clore Studio Upstairs, Paul Hamlyn Hall and various other locations situated both within the Royal Opera House and outside. ROH2 also provided additional artistic resource to partners and associate artists in order to help the organisation realise its strategic aims.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Keeley (comedian)</span>

Robert Keeley was an English actor-manager, comedian and female impersonator of the nineteenth century. In 1823 he originated the role of 'Fritz' in Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein, the first known stage adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein.

John Peter Bologna (1775 –1846), known as Jack Bologna on stage, was an Italian actor and dancer, who spent much time in England popularising the role of Harlequin in Georgian pantomimes and harlequinades in the early part of the 1800s at the Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden Theatres.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Payne (pantomimist)</span>

William Henry Schofield Payne was an actor, dancer and pantomimist, who created much of the stage business connected with the character Harlequin in 19th-century harlequinades. He was the father of the Victorian era pantomime clowns the Payne Brothers.



  1. Historic England (9 January 1970). "The Royal Opera House (1066392)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "11 Secrets of London's Royal Opera House". Londonist.
  3. "Royal Opera House (London)" Archived 23 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine description on Retrieved 10 May 2013
  4. "The Killigrew and Davenant Patents | British History Online".
  5. The original letters patent by Charles II, 15 January 1661/2 (illuminated, on vellum), authorizing Sir William Davenant to form a company of actors, are held in the Rosenbach Museum & Library, Philadelphia. The charter is illustrated in Clive E. Driver, A Selection from our Shelves: Books, manuscripts and drawings from the Philip H. & A.S.W. Rosenbach Foundation Museum (Philadelphia, 1973), No. 44. A highly reduced facsimile also appeared in The Sunday Times, 5 December 1982. Source: "The Rosenbach Museum & Library, numbers 1 through 239". Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts (CELM). Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  6. Admission to the 55 boxes was five shillings (1/4 £), half a crown (1/8 £) to the 'pit', and one shilling (1/20 £) to the gallery. A seat on the stage cost ten shillings. The elite could send servants to arrive at three pm to save places on the stage for their masters and mistresses. Box office proceeds the first night totaled £115
  7. John Rich as Harlequin [ permanent dead link ] (PeoplePlayUK – Theatre Museum) accessed 22 July 2008.
  8. Early ballet history Archived 20 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine (North Eastern University), accessed 22 December 2006.
  9. Sheppard 1972, p. 91.
  10. Michael Kelly (2011). Reminiscences of Michael Kelly, of the King's Theatre, and Theatre Royal Drury Lane: Including a Period of Nearly Half a Century. Cambridge University Press. p. 257. ISBN   9781108038720.
  11. "The Old Price Riots". PeoplePlayUK – the Theatre Museum (at the V & A). Archived from the original on 31 May 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  12. Edmund Kean (1789–1833) Archived 13 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine (NNDB) accessed 22 July 2008.
  13. Early Pantomime Archived 5 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine (PeoplePlayUK – the Theatre Museum (at the V & A) accessed 22 July 2008.
  14. "Boz" (ed.) ( Charles Dickens ), Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi, 1853 edition with Notes and Additions by Charles Whitehead , accessed 22 February 2007.
  15. Arundell, Dennis, The Story of Sadler's Wells
  16. "Theatres Compete in Race to Install Gas Illumination – 1817" (PDF). Over The Footlights. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  17. Banham 1995, p. 1026.
  18. "Madame Parepa-Rosa", Illustrated London News , 7 February 1874, p. 129; and Obituary: "Madame Parepa Rosa", The Times, 23 January 1874, p. 10
  19. History Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine (Royal Opera House) accessed 18 December 2012.
  20. Louis-Antoine Jullien (in French) Archived 11 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine accessed 21 December 2007.
  21. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Jullien, Louis Antoine"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 551.
  22. Parker 1900, p. 39.
  23. Anton Seidl had conducted the very first Ring in England (sung in German) at Her Majesty's Theatre from 5–9 May 1882. Source: F. G. E. [F. G. Edwards] (1 September 1906). "Wagner's Music in England". The Musical Times. 47 (763): 593. JSTOR   903478. (Free registration required)
  24. Gordon-Powell, Robin. Ivanhoe, full score, Introduction, vol. I, p. VIII, 2008, The Amber Ring
  25. 1 2 3 "A History of the Royal Opera House". Royal Opera House.
  26. "Charles Thomas Lucas at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  27. Reviews, "Drury-Lane Theatre", The Times , 13 December 1858, p. 10.
  28. Kingsford, C L. "Harrison, William (1813–1868)" Archived 23 November 2022 at the Wayback Machine , rev. John Rosselli, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, retrieved 14 April 2015 (subscription required)
  29. Jefferson 1979, p. [ page needed ].
  30. Rosenthal 1967, p. [ page needed ].
  31. Arts Council England annual review 2005, part 4 of 4 Archived 4 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine on Retrieved 10 May 2013
  32. Royal Opera House case study on Archived 4 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 24 March 2012
  33. Stanhope company website Archived 6 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine on Retrieved 10 May 2013
  34. "Royal Opera House launches 'Open Up' project with architects" Archived 6 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine , on
  35. Elizabeth Hopkirk, "Stanton Williams unveils £37m Royal Opera House revamp" Archived 5 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine , 3 November 2014, on (with images)
  36. "Royal Opera House | Commercial Architectural & Structural Glazing Specialists". IQ PROJECTS. 20 January 2016. Archived from the original on 20 March 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  37. "Royal Opera House to sell Hockney portrait to raise funds". BBC News . 4 October 2020. Archived from the original on 20 March 2021. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  38. "ROH – Paul Hamlyn Hall". Archived from the original on 20 March 2021. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  39. Historic England. "RESITED FLORAL HALL PORTICO AT BOROUGH MARKET (1392690)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  40. "£10m pledged to Royal Opera House", 9 May 2007 on Archived 20 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 24 March 2012
  41. Linbury Studio Theatre on Archived 20 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 24 March 2012
  42. Royal Opera House on Archived 20 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 24 March 2012
  43. The Linbury Trust on Archived 20 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 24 March 2012
  44. "UKTW Archive, London Royal Opera House". UK Theatre Web. Archived from the original on 20 March 2021. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  45. Higgins, Charlotte (28 October 2008). "Disharmony over Royal Opera's plan to go north". The Guardian . Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 20 March 2021. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  46. Staff writer (31 October 2008). "Northern opera proposal evaluated". BBC News . BBC.
  47. Brown, Mark (25 June 2009). "Threat to plan for Royal Opera House in the north". The Guardian . Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 20 March 2021. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  48. Staff writer (3 November 2010). "ROH shelves its plans to move north". The Stage . The Stage Media Company Ltd. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016. Alternative link. Archived 17 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  49. Sharp, Rob (27 October 2010). "Royal Opera House shelves move north". The Independent . Independent Print Ltd. Archived from the original on 20 March 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  50. 1 2 "Thurrock launches new creative and cultural hub", 13 December 2010, East of England Development Agency press release on its website Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 9 January 2011
  51. Information (with illustration) about the Production Park from Archived 18 September 2011 at Wikiwix Retrieved 25 November 2010

Cited sources

Further reading