Royal Opera House puts free content on iTunes

LONDON - The Royal Opera House is continuing to spread its brand online with an initiative to give away 300 items of film, audio and written material on iTunes.

The move is a European first for the Royal Opera House, which becomes the first performing arts organisation this side of the Atlantic to open its own iTunes U site and only the third in the world after the American Theatre Wing and the Washington National Opera.

The material includes a film of Leanne Cope, a member of The Royal Ballet corps de ballet, learning the role of Juliet for the first time

It will be available on iTunes U, which is the part of the iTunes Store that features free lectures, language lessons, film and audiobooks.

In all, there are six films shot by the Ballet Boyz, exploring key works from The Royal Ballet's repertoire including 'Mayerling', 'The Sleeping Beauty', 'The Nutcracker', 'Swan Lake', 'Giselle' and 'Romeo and Juliet'.

Six additional specially commissioned films exploring the processes of performing opera will be released through iTunes U in 2010.

The launch of the iTunes site follows the success that the Royal Opera House has had extending its brand into social media. It has attracted more than 18,000 fans on its Facebook site and almost 5,000 on Twitter.

In the summer, the Royal Opera House announced it was producing an opera composed entirely of "tweets" in an effort to make opera appeal to the masses. Contributions have been published on the Royal Opera House blog.

Tony Hall, chief executive of the Royal Opera House, said: "This is another exciting development within our digital media strategy, expanding what we are able to offer through a variety of different platforms enabling people wherever they are to learn more about opera and ballet. 

"I think the more we can open up what goes on 'behind the scenes' and in rehearsal with singers and dancers, the better. Within our first year, we aim to offer approximately 1,000 different items of multi-media content to students via iTunes U. "

The Royal Opera House iTunes U site can be found in the area of iTunes called 'Beyond Campus' or via the ROH website.