Forehead? Meet keyboard!

Damon Albarn and Terry Gilliam are leading a campaign to attract more young people to the opera, encouraging first-time attendees to wear jeans and trainers and promising them “club-style bars”.

The pair are the public faces of Undress for the Opera, a new scheme launched by the English National Opera which will introduce new audiences to La Traviata and Don Giovanni.

Ticket prices for special performances will be cheaper than usual – £25 for the best seats in the house, which can cost £100 on regular nights – and will include an invitation to a post-show party with cast and company members.

Bars at the London Coliseum will be transformed for the evening, with beer promotions and specially-themed cocktails.

Newcomers will also be able to download a synopsis of the opera beforehand, which comes with a tongue-in-cheek guide to opera etiquette written by Terry Gilliam.

And if that doesn’t work, they can put up a sign reading, “No Shoes? No Shirt? No Problem!”

Wouldn’t it be grand if, instead of dumbing down and casualizing the hell out of everything in order to get teh kids to show some interest, we instead focused our energies on instilling in them the sense that, yes, there are times when it is appropriate and desirable to be on our best behavior, to dress up, to take things to a higher level of dignity, and that these things actually add to the meaning of the experience? (The story is about opera  – and I wouldn’t sit through La Traviata even if allowed to do so in a muumuu – but I’m thinking of the more general application of the principle.)

Is that a-tall realistick or is ol’ Robbo just chowing down on too big a plate of pie-in-the-sky?

(I like the idea about the reduced price tickets, however, because the truth is that major league opera is too damned expensive.  I’ve lived in the DeeCee area for twenty years and haven’t been to the Kennedy Center more than a handful of times because of the prohibitive cost.)