It was reported by the Stage today that the Phantom of the Opera’s orchestra will be cut in half when it returns to London this summer. Yet ticket prices remain sky high, this move is not only one that’s bad for artists and the wider industry but also for audiences who are asked to shell out the same amount of money to pay for less.
There were awash with concerns when Cameron Mackintosh announced the closure of the original Phantom of the Opera in London. A return of the original was what is promised, but instead, we’ve already seen that promise broken.
In a joint statement, both the Really Useful Group and Mackintosh say ‘These orchestrations are just as thrilling and rich as the original’. Whether that same response could be made if the Royal Philarmonic said it would reduce its orchestra in half would remain go be seen.
While no production can be a museum piece, there are also times when a decision is made not for artistic merit but instead for financial benefit and seemingly this decision is one of those. There is technology to try and replicate instruments, let’s use it and save money.
It has been a disastrous year for performers in all professions and the statement of you can be replaced by technology is about as good as Fatima being advised to retrain.
There’s another side to this as well, that’s value for money. Phantom tickets haven’t gone down, yet you’re paying a production that’s slicker than before, less costly than before and a smaller orchestra than before. While unconfirmed it’s going to be likely that there are more job losses to come that haven’t been found out about.
Why should audiences spend the same amount on a ticket as before? In Feb 2020 your £100 ticket to see Phantom of the Opera was paying for a huge orchestra, a historical set that needed a tender upkeep, in July 2021 your £100 you’re paying for a cheaper to run production, with a smaller orchestra.
This needs to be called out and audiences need to vote with their feet.