1. Home
  2. Community
  3. Arts and culture
  4. bp and the Royal Opera House
  5. Celebrating a 32-year partnership

Celebrating a 32-year partnership

2020 marks the 32nd anniversary of bp’s long partnership with the Royal Opera House. This important collaboration has enabled more than 1.3 million people, principally from the UK but now increasingly worldwide, to experience free world-class opera and ballet performances from the Royal Opera House

There’s a great deal of history encapsulated in those 32 years

1988: bp becomes a corporate partner of the Royal Opera House.


1991-1996: bp supports the 'Behind the Scenes' programme. Targeted at young people, the programme aimed to stimulate a life-long interest in opera and ballet by offering unique and valuable insights to participants. Around 100 young people a year spent a week shadowing some of the Royal Opera House activities – from front of house to rehearsals to costume and wig making.


1997: bp supports the Schools Matinees programme, offering students an opportunity to see a Royal Opera House matinee performance for a reduced fee. As a result, more than 50,000 youngsters took up the offer to see world-class opera and ballet live at the Royal Opera House.


2000: bp alters its focus to the live relay of performances from the Royal Opera House with bp Opera and Ballet. This was simultaneous to the Schools Matinees support. The screenings were originally relayed to the Piazza in Covent Garden, where a highlight was always the appearance of the whole cast at the end of the performance to take their final curtain call. Notably, the great Plácido Domingo, a long-time advocate of the screenings and a firm favourite with the audiences, appeared numerous times much to the delight of the crowds.


2000 to today: Support has focused on the bp Big Screens activity, which has proved extremely popular and ‎become a key part of the Royal Opera House’s offering. Over the years, bp has supported over 50 Big ‎Screen relays. The quality of artists who have contributed to the relays is remarkable, with some of the ‎world’s greatest performers having entertained bp Big Screens audiences. Just a few of these are Roberto ‎Alagna, Thomas Allen, José Cura, Juan Diego Flórez, Joyce DiDonato, Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, ‎Angela Gheorghiu, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Bryn Terfel and Rolando Villazón. For ballet, performances have included some of the most outstanding dancers of our time, among them: Carlos Acosta‎, Roberto Bolle, Darcey Bussell, Jonathan Cope, Sylvie Guillem, Edward Watson and Zenaida Yanowsky. The podiums for these performances have seen some of the finest conductors such as Colin Davis, Mark Elder, Dan Ettinger, Philippe Jordan, Antonio Pappano and Emmanuel Plasson.


2004: The first screening to be relayed in Trafalgar Square was The Royal Ballet’s Onegin.


2008: The screenings outgrew the Covent Garden Piazza and move permanently to Trafalgar Square. Relays were also screened in other London venues, Aberdeen and several new locations across the UK.


2012: bp supported a unique exhibition held at the Royal Opera House in collaboration with The Olympic Museum, Lausanne, celebrating the role of the arts in the Olympic movement. The Olympic Story: The Journey of the Games attracted an audience of more than 45,000 people.


2014: Live streaming of the bp Big Screens began through Facebook and YouTube, making the performances viewable by a worldwide audience for the first time. Since 2014, around 650,000 people have engaged with the live webcast, logging on from Argentina to Vietnam and Finland to New Zealand.


Today:The bp Big Screens continue to enable thousands of people to enjoy world-class opera and ballet ‎through free live relays from the Royal Opera House to Big Screens across the UK as well as through the ‎web to their own homes. Over 1.3 million people have benefited from this unique partnership in its 32-year ‎history. ‎


We are all extremely proud of what has been achieved over the years and look forward to a continuing, successful partnership.

bp and the Royal Opera House in numbers

Online streaming reach of the bp Big Screens between 2014 to 2019‎

Number of young people who attended the schools matinees

Number of people that have attended the free bp Big Screens relays

Number of years bp and the Royal Opera House have been in partnership

Number of young people who attended the ‘behind the scenes’ programmes

Number of people who attended the Olympic Museum partnership exhibition