Opera in the Open Air (Kind Of)

By london_alex Last edited 155 months ago
Opera in the Open Air (Kind Of)

It is finally summer, although Londonist knows this only because of the calendar date and not the weather. Summer means gleaming white bodies attempting to tan in Hyde Park, drinking large glasses of Pimm's, and above all it means seeing opera and ballet for free in some of London's most beloved squares.

Yes, that is right, it is time once again for the Royal Opera House's BP Summer Big Screens season. For three nights and three nights only, you and your nearest and dearest friends and family can pack a picnic and spend an evening with the Royal Opera or the Royal Ballet without paying anything - this is not a joke.

Starting Wednesday 8 June (that is tomorrow)performances from the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera will be on massive big screens in: Canada Square, Covent Garden (obviously), Trafalgar Square, and Victoria Park. (In addition there will be big screens set up over the whole of the UK, Aberdeen, Belfast, Manchester, Hull, Birmingham, and Liverpool).

These performances are no shortened or dumbed down version of the real thing, tomorrow night is the full 2 hours and 45 minutes. So be prepared to spend your whole evening watching - or at least know that the above locations will be inundated with viewers until approx. 10:30. All performances will begin at 7:30 with pre-performance films starting at 6:30.

In addition to the Royal Ballet tomorrow evening (only on in Trafalgar Square), you can also see La Boheme (a Puccini classic and wonderful introduction to opera if you have never seen it before) 30 June in Covent Garden and Canada Park, and Rigoletto 21 June (only in Covent Garden).

This is the second BP Summer Big Screen season and part of the ROH's recent efforts to make the house more accessible and encourage more Londoners to attend the opera more reguarly. In addition, they also organized 10 GBP Mondays with Travelex and have a student scheme for less expensive seats.

Londonist recommends all three performances but we are most excited to see Rigoletto in Covent Garden in a few weeks time - nothing more exciting than Verdi's classic story of a hunchback (which Verdi obviously based on one famous Hugo story).

For more information see the ROH's BP Summer Big Screens website.

Last Updated 07 June 2005


Uh, so not to be pedantic or anything, but are you implying that Rigoletto is based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Because Rigoletto is based on Hugo's Le Roi s'amuse, which, while it is about a hunchback, I really don't think can be called "famous." In any case, I agree that the performance will worth seeing; it's just too bad they can't do the event when the (probably more exciting) second cast is singing.


hi greg - i did mean "le roi s'amuse" and i suppose that in retrospect that are other adjectives i could have used instead of famous... haha.

more exciting second cast? i think that may be unlikely - what makes you think so?


Well, I've never actually heard Beczala sing, but Villazon in the second cast is certainly a bigger name internationally. Likewise, Gavanelli is terrific, but you know exactly what you're going to get. Hvorostovski, in the second cast, can be really unpredictable and exciting. Granted, this means sometimes is performances flop, but I get a real frisson watching him that is all-too-rare from big name singers. Also: he is very, very pretty. Gavenelli, not so much. The Gildas will both be good, I think.

Since you asked!...


sufficiently impressed... are you after my job?


Well, uh... I'll be in touch.