Yes, that’s right: there may not be such a thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as a free opera!
Garsington Opera For All
What began initially as one outreach opera broadcast from Garsington to Skegness in 2012 has blossomed into an exciting new programme of free nationwide opera screenings: Opera For All. This is a brand new scheme; the official announcement can be seen here on the Garsington website.
- Garsington operas get screened in Thanet, Grimsby, Skegness and Somerset, all for free!
- There are also extensive education and outreach projects to support the screenings, so plenty of chances for everyone to get involved and learn more at all levels
- For full details, keep checking the website
Nice facts: Opera For All is sponsored by the good guys: commissioned by Arts Council England with backing from the Coastal Communities Alliance and Magna Vitae. And there’s a strong chance it’ll be on, or at least near, a sandy beach!
BP Free Summer Screens
This nationwide strand of fabulous free opera comes to us thanks to the evil oil giant BP. Well, frankly, they of all people ought to be doing something to make the world a better place, and luckily for us, they assuage their social conscience with the BP Free Summer Screens.
What they do is erect huge screens across the UK, and broadcast a live feed from the Royal Opera House, showing two operas and a ballet each year. The screens move around, but there’s always one in Trafalgar Square, London, and they usually also appear in Bradford, Aberdeen, Belfast and elsewhere. Check the website to find out where your nearest screen is going to be.
The atmosphere is always friendly and fun, and the sound quality is excellent: even as buses and sirens roar past you in central London, you are still swept up in the magic of the music. Bring a picnic, bring a blanket, and bring friends. You can eat, drink and even smoke throughout the performance if you like. As usual with most outdoor things, you can’t bring furniture or glass.
I find this is an excellent way to introduce people to opera: you can tempt them with a picnic, and reassure them that they can “always leave at the interval and go to the pub instead, if they don’t like it.” …No one ever has.
- At Trafalgar Square, it always fills up quickly. The opera usually starts at 7:30pm, and you need to be there at least an hour before to be certain of a good space. I have been known to go and take up position from 4:30pm to be on the safe side!
- BP usually provide ponchos in case it rains, inflatable cushions, flyer-style programmes, and plastic carafes to decant any drink that arrives in glass bottles (but NB this takes time)