Picture this - next Wednesday evening you go to see one of the most famous and most performed operas of all time, starring some of the world's greatest opera singers and accompanied by one of the finest opera choruses and orchestras. What's more, you'll be sitting in one of the best seats in the house, be able to see every expression on the singers' faces, and you'll even be able to pop backstage in the interval. And the best bit is that you can do all of this for as little as £8 - at your local cinema.
The opera is Faust, the singers are Angela Gheorghiu, Vittorio Grigolo, René Pape and Dmitri Hvorostovsky and the orchestra and chorus are the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House. The performance will be beamed live from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden to more than 400 cinemas around the world. It's the first night of our 2011/12 Cinema Season and it will be one to remember.
Over the next nine months we will be showing ten different Royal Opera House productions in more than 700 cinemas in 22 countries. During the season we'll be showing both live and pre-recorded opera and we'll also have a brand new 3D title - Madam Butterfly. Taking these shows out into cinemas enables many more people to experience world class opera and ballet. In the few years since we started doing this we have already given thousands of people the opportunity to watch our productions, people who may not otherwise have been able to for geographic or financial reasons.
I believe that everyone should have the chance to see opera and ballet. This is why we sell over half of the tickets at Covent Garden at £55 or less with a quarter at £25 or less. It's also why we're launching a range of initiatives offering cut price tickets for families, schools, students and older people who may never have been to a performance at the Royal Opera House. This year, we're working with various partners such as schools and charities to invite 25,000 people who've never sat in the auditorium before to enable them to see their first live opera or ballet.
But cinema potentially offers something bigger and it's about much more than just low price tickets. It enables us to go global (and local) and, working with film means that we can try new things like filming in 3D or getting right up close to the action both on and off stage. And, in a time of funding cuts, it's a potential source of extra revenue. The audience reflects the versatility of the format. It's a real mixture of people - from those who are passionate opera and ballet fans and relish the chance to see the performances in a different setting to those who have never seen an opera or ballet before.
This is the first year that we've screened a whole programme of Royal Opera House productions and owned the whole Season. We co-ordinate the productions in-house which means that we're in control of the content - this is really important to us artistically. The results are spine-tingling. Go!