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Laz Word: Night at the opera?

Up north is where the Royal Opera House is headed, but not this way. Eh? How did we miss that one? wonders Larry Neild

Published on November 11th 2008.


Laz Word: Night at the opera?

REMEMBER all the dosh they splashed out on improving the Empire? The work was needed to bring the big West End shows to Liverpool as well as grand opera and ballet.

The stage was set for great things. Then what happens, right in the midst of our year as European Capital of Culture? Those upstart Mancunians pull off the cultural coup of the year, scuttling around London and getting the Royal Opera House to open a northern base in the one-time cotton capital of England.

Maybe the Royal Opera House should have played fair by placing an advert in the Merseymart: “Wanted: New northern base for distinguished opera and ballet organisation. Applications to PO Box 13

Where were our highly paid cultural generals when this coup d-etat took place? No doubt grabbing one of them flimsy lamp-post 08 banners and surrendering.

Maybe the Royal Opera House should have played fair by placing an advert in the Merseymart: “Wanted: New northern base for distinguished opera and ballet organisation. Applications to PO Box 13.”

It’s so unfair. We let them have the Imperial War Museum North after we suffered from WW2 far more than our cousins in the foothills of the Pennines. By rights we should have had that as well.

It seems the Manchester Light Brigade, led by Brigadiers Sir Howard Bernstein and Richard Leese, put together a

dream package to lure the Royal Opera House to Cottonville, they bought it and now there's going to be an independent evaluation. Good for Manchester – enterprise pays off.

In a new age when us northerners pull together for the good of the Great North West you’d have thought Leese and Bernstein would have let on, giving us a hint at what they were up to. But they kept it quiet, didn’t they? So while we were busy counting the £60m we allegedly earned from hosting the start of the Tall Ships Race and wetting ourselves with excitement over the MTV awards broadcast, which attracted a worldwide audience that was probably just a bit bigger than that which Bill and Ben and Rag, Tag and Bobtail attracted in the days of black and white telly, the Mancs were making the swoop for some long-lasting culture.

I’d suggest telling them we’re gonna take our ball away – but guess what, they also host the world’s most successful footie club as well. Please note – I didn’t say the “best team”, that accolade goes to Accrington Stanley.

At least our culture programme for 2009 and 2010 is safe. The city council cabinet has pledged £4m next year and the same the year after.

To give a hint of what that would buy, almost half of it would be blown on bringing back the spider (£1.8m). Maybe we should be pitching to host the regional finals of the World Tiddlywinks Championship.

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13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Gordon StreetNovember 11th 2008.

That's outrageous!Surely there must be some form of investigation?

AnonymousNovember 11th 2008.

Quite! Although it's a brave individual who sticks their head above the paraphet in this city and says so. The council is utterly paranoid, especially the Culture co, of the slightest remark that other more mature people would take as constructive critisism and they take as a wounding blow. Still only a few weeks to go!

Hilary BurrageNovember 11th 2008.

Well, we didn't go for the National Performing Arts Museum when it was up for grabs either, did we? - even though there was an effort by some more enlightened councillors to propose that it be considered in the City Council. (You'll find the details in my blog, about a year back.) We seem to prefer marketing-related spectacle, to establishing good ol' fashioned bases for longer-lasting 'culture'. It's the ongoing overheads and challenges of the business case, no doubt, which worry the powers that be; which isn't much of a vote for enduring benefit from CoC, in my books anyway...http://www.hilaryburrage.com

Gracie FieldsNovember 11th 2008.

They should put the new opera house in Rochdale. I was more famous than anyone from manchester or liverpool for that matter.

millieNovember 11th 2008.

Just think if this had been when the fab four where alive. Paul deffo would have been a great composer, John a lyrecist, and maybe Liverpools answer to Gilbet and Sullivan.Why does the Government keep depriving the needy people of Liverpool of such essential artistic institiutions?

Liverpool wagNovember 11th 2008.

That's quite funny for a Manc.

DigNovember 11th 2008.

They're finally making a bid for some long lasting culture are they? Good for them! They're only 159 years, 2 months and 15 days behind Liverpool and The Philharmonic. As for them also hosting the worlds most successful club, we need not dignify that with a response in anger.

Sir DiddyNovember 11th 2008.

Of course the rumour is true - i wanted Robbing because i had mates in Oz and i didn't want a strong Liverpool woman like Jude Kelly challenging my authority. Why i got rid of Sue Woodward too. The Storeyteller rolled over and acquiesed over Robbing as i knew he would. Anyway I'm off to Melbourne on a freebie now to see my mates...

Flu CuckooNovember 11th 2008.

Why go to Manchester for opera and dancing when we could just reopen the Irish Centre. I've got an idea

Stanley StreetNovember 11th 2008.

Is there a Storey behind that?

yankee doddleNovember 11th 2008.

Liverpool is the home of music across the world. The Beatles will live forever in the hearts of many of us and the sense of humour of gold hearted scousers has made liverpool a place of wonder to many outsiders; it is like camelot, Oz, or shangri la. How many little scouze toddlers have now been denied and opportunity to sing classical music and take a career in Opera by this short sighted decision?It is another example of Liverpool being denied the right to express its wonderful talents to the world.Shameful.

(Artistic Director of the South Bank Centre, Britain’s largest cultural institution and Chair of Culture, Ceremonies and Education at the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games in London)November 11th 2008.

was rejected for the post of Director of Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008 in favour of Australian hippy Robbing Archer?

Phylis SteinNovember 11th 2008.

Liverpool had its turn at culture in the days of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, so push over and give Manchester a chance. They will appreciate Grand Opera and Ballet far more than yer average Scouser. How about turning the Grafton into the International Line Dancing Centre. They could organise a worldwide Grannie Awards and attract a global audience of dozens.

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