There is apparently no reason for young people not to give opera a try. The Royal Opera House sells £10 student standby tickets, as well as advance booking for cheap standing or slip tickets. Meanwhile, the English National Opera’s ‘Opera Undressed’ offers the best seats in the house for £25, and its ‘Access All Arias’ sells tickets from as little as £10 to under-thirties. Opera Holland Park even gives away 1000 tickets a season through its ‘Inspire’ project. Further afield, the Dutch National Opera’s outreach programme ‘OperaFlirt’ provides young people the opportunity to come into contact with opera for the first time for only 20€. Canada Opera’s ‘Opera Under Thirty’ scheme targets under-thirties by making $22 tickets available for every performance.

These tickets are a bargain. A full-priced ticket from the ROH can cost as much as £250. Why, then, is not every student rushing to try this wonderful, transcendental and all-encompassing art form? But as enticing as these outreach programmes sound, they address only one issue: ticket prices. Whilst they make opera more affordable, they do not necessarily make opera more accessible to new audiences.

To make opera accessible, tickets not only need to be affordable, they also need to be easy to obtain. Student tickets for classical music concerts, for instance, can normally be booked in exactly the same and straightforward way as full-priced tickets. The same is not true for opera. Getting hold of discounted tickets either requires a considerable amount of pre-planning, or the ability to drop all your plans last-minute.

For example, to buy a £10 student standby ticket from the ROH, first you have to sign up to their scheme in advance. You then have to wait to be emailed about the availability of tickets from little as 24 hours before the performance. You must then book as quickly as possible as the limited tickets sell out quickly.

Of course, this testifies to the scheme’s popularity, and I would not want the ROH to stop making cheap tickets available to students. But the scheme implies that only those who are willing to put in the effort are deserving of the discounted tickets. Surely you are only going to put in the effort if you are an opera fan already? It would not be surprising if, given the number of hoops newcomers have to jump through, they decide not to bother.

Other schemes allow bookings in advance, but their higher price means they equally deter new audiences. Glyndebourne offers 16 to 29 year-olds £30 tickets on its ‘Glyndebourne<30’ scheme. The company may boast that these tickets for their 2014 season sold out within a week, but I question how many of these actually went to newcomers. Particularly revealing is an interview on their website with a beneficiary of their scheme, Jenny Mark-Bell. She was already an opera-lover; becoming hooked after seeing The Magic Flute aged seven. For her and other established opera fans, forking out £30 for something you already love is a bargain. But for most young people £30 is a significant amount, especially for something new and which they might not enjoy.

I do not intend to be disparaging towards opera companies’ efforts, and I appreciate making tickets easily and cheaply available is a difficult task. I certainly do not want any of these schemes to be discontinued. There is no denying that making tickets affordable tackles a significant barrier to opera. But the price of tickets is only one barrier. If opera companies are serious about attracting new audiences, making their tickets affordable can only be the first step.

My fear is that by offering cheap tickets, opera companies will start believing that they have done their bit. If being unable to afford to go to the opera is no longer an excuse for not going, then can opera companies really be expected to entice those who simply are not interested in trying something new?

Yet if we really care about the art form, if we really believe in its transcendence, beauty and power, then surely everyone deserves to experience it. Loving opera should mean wanting as many people to enjoy it as possible. Opera companies should be praised for their efforts, but they need to continue coming up with ways of drawing new audiences and making opera available to everyone. It is a difficult task, and probably one that will never be achieved to a satisfying enough degree. But surely, if opera is really as amazing as we believe, then it must be worth the effort?