Tickets for the opening night of Don Giovanni, the first production of the new Royal Opera House season, are being made available exclusively to readers of the Sun newspaper. The move comes as part of Royal Opera’s drive to attract new audiences, which will also include the screening of performances at cinemas nationwide.

Chief executive Tony Hall said of the move: “We have so many opportunities to open up our doors to more people and I’m thrilled that we’re able to invite those who have never been to the opera house before to experience a first night performance.”

Details of the performance, which takes place on 8 September 2008, will be published in the newspaper on 30 July, with a ballot then taking place to decide the allocation of tickets, which are priced between £7.50 and £30. The show will also be screened live at a network of Picturehouse cinemas, with a regular programme of live and recorded screenings planned for the new year.

The link up with the Sun, the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper often accused of sensationalism and ‘dumbing down’, is not without its critics. Guardian arts blogger Charlotte Higgins reacted strongly to the news, going so far as to suggest a boycott: “it\'s great that the Opera House is pursuing new audiences, but the idea of doing it through a newspaper that actively and unashamedly pursues the sexual objectification of women is completely horrifying.”