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Opera is associated with formality and expensive venues. But a new breed of producer wants to change all that

By Michael Coveney   July 2011

Bohemian rhapsody: OperaUpClose’s award-winning La bohème

Something is afoot in the world of opera. The Glyndebourne season opened on 21st May with a full-strength production of Wagner’s six-hour Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. On the same night there was an updated, informal, two-hour east London version of Puccini’s La bohème in the back room of a scuzzy pub in Islington, performed by just eight singers and a pianist.

The contrast in theatre as a social event could not have been more marked. At Glyndebourne, dozens of dinner-suited captains of industry lugged picnic hampers across the lawns en route to a dessert…

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