3 MAY 1997, Page 29

Music for the masses

Sir: Joan Bakewell's Diary of 29 March cru- elly emphasises the dread consequences of the decisions taken about funding the Royal Opera House. The £215 million raised for its development provides only a marginal addition to its 1,850 seats. Had the bulk of the money been spent on building a 21st-century opera house with 3,500 seats, performances of the quality of Die Meistersinger could be enjoyed by twice as many people but at affordable prices, all this within the same number of appear- ances of this talented cast. Thus the Royal Opera could really make a commercial suc- cess of its few hits and rid itself of its justi- fied reputation for privileged elitism.