Ballet As A Rock Concert? Really?

What is the point, really, of performing a ballet before an audience of 12,000? That is the question posed by the Royal Ballet‘s performance this weekend of “Romeo and Juliet” at London’s O2 venue, more commonly used for rock concerts. The only response I can offer: who’s stopping them? The pleasure of ballet is in the details, which will be lost in such a vast cavern. As to watching it on video screens? Really, what’s the point? For the Royal, it’s the ability to say: see, we want to make ballet accessible to everyone. But you’d be better off watching a ballet broadcast at home, where the onscreen details will be much more visible. As for the effect of a live audience, that may be a recommendation at a rock concert where everyone can make unimpeded noise. But do you want to watch a ballet while everyone around you is yelling and screaming and texting and talking on the phone? And does the Royal really think that people who pay a lower-than-usual ticket price for a rock arena experience are going to start paying the much steeper prices at the Royal’s home, Covent Garden? As Ronald Firbank used to say when he heard something questionable: “I wonder.”

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