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that, as we all know. But after working on an opera li ke Figaro you get a feeling of communication with an audience that yo u seldom have in the concert hall. JI: There's an implication in your question that we should be discouraged because it isn't easy. But there can never have been a time when it was easy, when people p utting on opera didn't have to worry about paying the bills. Opera has always had to fight for its existence because is seems such an odd art form to some people, and because it isn 't a lways nurtured by a state or a society. But it clings on and it thri ves because of its own essence, and any of us who is discouraged by the difficulties of funding or whatever simply shouldn't be here . You just blood y well get on with it. RM: There's been a change recently as we move into mixed-econom y funding. For the first time in 30 years pub li c funding hasn 't risen or even kept pace with inflation. That must create a crisis. Do yo u feel there's a lack of sympath y from 'up there'?

JI: No, I don't. At the moment this country has a government that wishes to make individuals more self-reliant, and doesn't see the state in quite the role of bountiful father that others have in re lation to funding the arts. But we must just li ve with that. The way you put it i right, it is a mixed economy, and the logic of the state saying 'we want to do a little less' is that we have to say to pri vate individuals and private corporations, 'please wi ll you do a little more'. Unfortunately we also have to say to the public that their tickets are going to cost a little more. I think it would be disastrou if funding \\'ere always one way or the other; I like the idea of funding from both sources and of tryin g to sustain an appeal both to private generosity and the box office, and to the state as a funder . One has to tr y and keep the two in balance, but I 'm convinced that there will be marginall y grea ter private contribution to the funding of the art in this country over the next decade or so th a n there ha been in the recent past. I don't think that's a cause for despair .

ML: I suppose the question rephrased could be 'why do you do opera here'? In this place that seems to be the focus of al l the greatest difficulties? To an outsider it might seem that putting an opera on at Covent Garden i the hardest job that anyone can do . You are right in the firin g line . Pf: That's the greate t challenge. That 's why we work here . Every house has problem s. London has two-I like to think-mar vellous opera house , and look what we offer the public between us. But what we ha ve to do i make sure that there is different iation , a separation betwee n what each house does-otherwise merge the two houses. If yo u take the separation stance, then you begin to ask what the E O's role i and what is Covent Garden's. That 's the nub of the problem. Fine, ENO will use primarily a Briti sh bas fo r it s producer , designer etc ., we have the opportunity to look round the world, though of course gi ving priority to th e Briti sh . But you've till got to keep a balance, otherwise you find you are beginning to repeat what E 0 is doing. The Briti sh public wants to see the bet that the world ha to offer , and that surel y is the role for Covent Garden. RM: Back to funding and the ghast ly nettle of seat price . Although you ha ve access to pri vate money, and have to have, you're st ill in receipt of the largest block sum of publi c money from the Arts Counci l, and to an outsider it look s as if sea t pr ices lim it audiences to a tiny section of the community . Are yo u con cious of thi ? JI: O f cour e ,,·e are, but I don't think I 'd put it quite in the way that you do. Although we're in receipt of the large t um by far doled out by th e An Council, it is split

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