On a trip to London in mid-October, we managed to acquire tickets to the Manon Ballet at The Royal Opera House (ROH). The ROH is a major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, London, home to The Royal Ballet and The Royal Orchestra.
In this full FAQ guide, we’ll be answering all of your questions, from the seating plan, to the dress code, before providing our thoughts on the Manon ballet itself.
Getting To The Royal Opera House
The easiest way to navigate to the Royal Opera House in central London is to use the app Citymapper.
Using the Underground
The closest underground station, only a few minutes walk away from the Royal Opera House is Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line. However, the station can get crowded, especially around performance times. As we were heading to Paddington station after the performance, we opted to walk to Charing Cross station, on the Bakerloo line, which was around a 10 minute walk away.
Uber has had some issues retaining its license to operate in London. At the time of writing, 5th November 2019, the license is in a short extension period. So best just to check with the Uber app during your trip.
UberX, UberXL, Pool, Exec, Lux, Assist and Access are currently available in London.
Use our UBER code: andrewy2730ue or sign up here to get a free ride.
Royal Opera House Seating Plan
The seating capacity of the Royal Opera House is 2,256. That’s split across the Stalls, Donald Gordon Grand Tier, Balcony and Amphitheatre.
We were seated in row A of the Stalls Circle, seats 71 and 72. These were great seats, only slightly off centre, elevated above the audience in front of us.
Are Standing Seats Any Good?
The standing seats are only recommended for people over 5’4’’ (1.6m) due to viewing restrictions (tier ledges, leaning bars and front row audience members). Whilst these seats are sold at a great price, I’d avoid these if you’re at all nervous about heights.
I’d also take into account your comfort. Due to the nature of these performances, which can run for 3+ hours including intervals, you might regret not paying extra for a seat.
Restricted View Seats
When booking your ticket, you will be made aware of any restricted viewing due to ledges, safety rails, pillars or ceiling overhang.
Also, if you book your seats online, on the ROH website, you’ll see a ‘view from the seat’ picture when you select your seats, before you purchase.
Generally speaking, the closer you are to the stage, and the closer you are to the centre of the theatre, the more expensive your tickets will be. There are 13 ticket tiers which range in price the from Lower and Upper Slip/Standing tickets to the top tier tickets (reserved for specific seats in the Stalls, Grand Tier and Boxes).
To give you an example using the performance we attended, a standing ticket in the Amphitheatre section for Manon (evening performance) will set you back only £5. A seat in middle of the Stalls for the same performance would cost you £97.
This is a question we contemplated before our visit, what do we wear? The answer? There is no dress code at the Royal Opera House so feel free to dress smart or casual, no matter the ticket price.
The Royal Opera House advises that you avoid bringing bags with you if possible. However, they can accommodate bags up to a certain size. Since we were travelling after the show, we had two small back packs with us, both of which were acceptable.
Any bag larger than A3 size cannot be taken inside the auditorium.
The Royal Opera House does have a free cloakroom service but only for small items and coats. We stored both of our small backpacks and coats in the cloakroom for free.
You are given a ticket which you can use to collect your bags during or after the performance since the cloakroom is staffed at these times.
Purchasing A Programme
A souvenir programme can be purchased at a few points in the Royal Opera House. The Main Entrance Foyer, the Paul Hamlyn Hall, the Amphitheatre Lobby, as well as the shop.
A programme costs £8 for a Main Stage performance and £5 for a Linbury Theatre performance. However, prices may vary on special occasions. Anyone can get a free cast sheet for Royal Ballet and Royal Opera performances.
Food And Drink
The Royal Opera House has 5 bars and 4 restaurants which open 90 minutes before a performance. The menus are actually dependent on the performance as the ROH has designed them to complement the production:
Paul Hamlyn Hall Balconies Restaurant
Paul Hamlyn Hall Champagne Bar
Interval drinks can be pre-ordered in advance.
Important: You cannot take food or drink into the auditorium. I found this out the hard way. The glass of wine which was supposed to see me through Act I instead lasted for a grand total of 5 minutes.
In the Main Stage, there is lift access and step-free seating on most levels, except the Orchestra Stalls (9 steps). There are seats in the Stalls Circle, the Balcony and Amphitheatre accessible step-free. There are also 19 wheelchair spaces.
For detailed plans and for additional info, visit the ‘Access’ section of the ROH website.
We arrived at Covent Garden Tube Station, with hundreds of other passengers simultaneously, around 30 minutes before the performance. After a short walk, we entered the Royal Opera House via the Covent Garden entrance. The main entrance is on Bow Street, on the other side.
The check-in process was seamless enough. We picked up our tickets, a programme and stored our bags and jackets in the cloakroom. We had about 10 minutes before curtain so I decided to treat myself to a glass of wine. The plan being to slowly make my way through it during Act I. This was before I’d found out that drinks weren’t permitted in the auditorium, so the wine was finished more hastily than planned.
This is one criticism I would make. Before you purchase food or drink (especially within 15 minutes of a performance), staff should make it clear that it’s not allowed in the theatre.
Our seats were in a great position, in row A (seats 71 and 72) of the Stalls Circle. The off-centre seats didn’t bother us at all, especially since our view was unobstructed due to the elevated position.
In terms of the ballet performance itself, I really can’t fault it. Neither of us had been to the ballet before so Manon was our introductory experience. I’d say the story became easier to follow at the mid-point of Act I due to the sheer volume of characters on stage in the first half. We also got into the habit of reading the synopsis after each Act just to check that we were following the story accurately.
The cast performance, the choreography, the music (played by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House) and the set design all came together harmoniously to create an awe-inspiring production.
Thank you to Royal Opera House for inviting us to visit. As always, all opinions are my own. Are you thinking of visiting the Royal Opera House, London? If you've got any questions, or if you just want to comment, please let us know in the section down below.