Both are known for giving people headaches and have strong associations with Russia, but fans are now allegedly mixing opera and vodka – sneaking the latter into the former by “decanting” the party-friendly spirit into water bottles – according to the chief executive of the English National Opera (ENO).
Stuart Murphy said some patrons were “decanting vodka into water bottles and ruining the experience for the vast majority of our beloved audience”.
Murphy, who took the reins at the London Coliseum-based company in April, made the claim while responding to an opera fan, who had complained on Twitter about stewards making show-goers empty plastic bottles onto the building’s outer steps before a performance of Richard Strauss’s Salome.
The ENO has had a no food and drink policy in place since earlier this year, launching it to coincide with a run of the musical Bat Out of Hell, after incidents of fans sneaking gin and vodka into shows.
Asked by a fan, Calum Kennedy, on whether attendees of the show – based on a German translation of Oscar Wilde’s play about the life of King Herod II’s daughter – were actually smuggling the colourless liquid into performances Murphy said: “People do, sadly”.
People do, sadly. So we’ve had to do this to make sure you and other great opera fans have a really nice time. Sorry it’s a bit annoying but trust me – it would be far more annoying for you to have to witness the alternative
— Stuart Murphy (@stuartmurphy100) September 29, 2018
An ENO spokesperson clarified that alcohol-smuggling had not occurred during Salome’s run, and was simply the ENO maintaining its standing policy on bottled liquids.
“We’ve had to do this to make sure you and other great opera fans have a really nice time,” Murphy said. “Sorry it’s a bit annoying but trust me – it would be far more annoying for you to have to witness the alternative.”
Kennedy said the move felt like “unwelcoming craziness”.