Is this the way forward for opera in the slump? Yesterday, the glamour of the West End; today, budget air travel? Good old bmibaby has come up with a novel idea to help travellers prepare for their holiday: provide free, live, on-board "enterplanement". Last week they drafted in soprano Vera Likerova from the Prague State Opera to sing to passengers en route to the Czech capital at 30,000 feet.
"As well as putting the fun back into flying, we thought we could do something more interactive and actually have representatives from the destinations on a few flights," said bmibaby MD Julian Carr. They hope to give a taste of the destination and suggest things to do there that you "might not read in a standard tourist brochure" - going to the opera no doubt has been roundly excised from recessionary guide books.
Passengers were surprised, but not displeased. Two travellers, Dawn and Julie from Warrington, declared that for them "it certainly sparked an interest, so we'll have a look at the opera in Prague when we get there."
You could find yourself being "enterplaned" on more bmibaby flights this summer as they're planning to continue the scheme with other destinations: first up, Venice.
I wonder what will be on offer for that route? Apparently the airline wants to give "local acts the chance to showcase the culture and tradition of their country." Bingo: follow the Youtube link to the footage of the Prague flight, and you can hear Vera singing that traditional Czech song "O mio babbino caro", by Prague's very own Giacomo Puccini.
Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.
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