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Open Up FAQs

Construction work began in autumn 2015 and will run until autumn 2018. During this time performances will continue in the main auditorium but other areas will be affected, including access to the building. Please allow extra time when arriving for performances, and check the Open Up homepage for the latest updates.


Is there contingency built into the timetable?

A lot of work has gone into understanding what the risks are to the programme of performances and mitigating them where possible – for example, through extensive survey work. In addition there is contingency built into the programme for discovery items.

Impact on the public

Will the number of general rehearsals and matinees and performances be affected by Open Up?

No, the number will remain the same as is currently scheduled. The construction programme has been created around these scheduled rehearsals, matinees and evening performances. However, we recommend ticket holders check start times of every performance as they do vary from production to production.

Will any of the building work have a detrimental impact on the quality of performance or audience experience inside the main auditorium?

No, except performance start times may vary – these changes will be made clear on all tickets and on the website.

How will you cope with an increase in visitors to the building?

While we aim to encourage more people to use the space, the new layout aims to make the foyers much less congested and should improve the visitor experience. For example, by including dedicated cloakrooms at Amphitheatre and Linbury levels as well as the ground level foyer cloakroom, we hope to reduce queuing times at the end of performances and avoid crowding around key circulation areas.

What do you think will encourage visitors to spend more time in the building?

A new public programme of learning and engagement events targeted at a wide range of people, a new espresso bar, improved facilities, an enlarged retail space and a fully refurbished Linbury Theatre all make up the plan to encourage visitors to spend more time in the building.

The existing building

Will the new design respect the listed building?

Yes. We have been and continue to be in close consultation with English Heritage and Westminster City Council to ensure that this is the case.

Will the new signage use a style that is considerate of the old building?

Yes. Our signage and way-finding consultants have been appointed to review signage across the building, not just Open Up areas.

Street level

Where is the temporary shop?

The souvenir shop on Russell Street has now been refurbished and re-opened; find out opening times here. There will be a smaller retail location on the Amphitheatre corridor that will open throughout the project in place of the main shop. All items will still be available for purchase through our revamped online shop.

Linbury Theatre

How flexible will the seating in the Linbury be?

The Linbury seating will be able to be configured to suit both steep and shallow rakes for ballet and opera performances as well as being able to move position to suit end-on, traverse and flat floor stagings.

Will there still be standing places?

There will be a variety of ticket prices available for both standing room and seated. The number of standing places will be slightly reduced from the current set-up, but the comfort of the seating and quality of the sightlines and acoustics will be improved dramatically, providing an all-round better experience for visitors.

Restaurants and bars

Will the building programme affect the restaurants and bars?

Wherever the construction programme has an impact on restaurants and bars we will endeavour to provide an alternative service.


Are there any toilets for audiences who have difficulty with the stairs?

There will be three accessible toilets on the ground floor.

Will all of the areas be accessible for wheelchair users?

All of the areas under the scope of Open Up will be fully wheelchair accessible, including the Linbury Theatre, which will be accessible on all three levels for the first time. We have an access consultant on board who will be advising us throughout the project.

Will there be any road closures?

We hope to avoid any full closures where possible. We will make sure we inform ticket holders if such occasions arise.


How has the project been funded?

All of the funding for Open Up has been secured from a small number of private philanthropists and charitable foundations who have long-term involvement with the Royal Opera House and share its vision for this important project. We did not seek any public funding for the project.

Contact information

If you have any comments or queries, please email