Monday, October 23, 2006

What's Rhodri Morgan got against Opera?

What on earth was Rhodri Morgan talking about last week when he said in the Western Mail that cultural opportunities "will be open to the many, not reserved for the privileged few"?

Mr Morgan needs to get out a bit more! In Montgomeryshire, where the average wage is 76% of the Welsh average, the sole theatre, Theatr Hafren in Newtown, "gratefully acknowledges" the funding it receives from the Arts Council of Wales and, of 49 performances it is hosting in its Autumn season, only 8 (4 of plays, 2 by orchestras and 2 by dance companies) could be termed "high-brow". In fact the most expensive tickets of the season are for "The Counterfeit Stones"!

The sinister tone of Mr Morgan's remarks, however, is clearly revealed when he states that, when the Arts Council under Labour becomes politicised, he will "take on vested interests". This usually means the WNO for being so "elitist" but just what does Labour have against opera? Many of the plots champion the poor but resourceful ordinary people and many of the best tunes in Mozart and Verdi for example are variations of folk tunes. I can personally recommend the £5 seats in the opera at the Wales Millennium Centre to Mr Morgan and, even if he were to pay for the most expensive seat in the house, it would still be less than his dinner in a restaurant on a Saturday night.

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