Thursday, May 17, 2007

I wonder...

Pleased as I am to hear that the Met movie-casts are a success, I find myself wondering if the immediate expansion of the program isn't jumping the gun a little. You have to factor in the novelty of it, I think, and give it some time to settle, no? I'm wary of what happens if turnout next season is disappointing--do they can the whole thing, as it's evidently quite expensive? Hopefully I am dead wrong and what is in fact happening is some kind of opera youthquake and soon all the kids' MySpace pages will have pictures of Jarmila Novotna and Richard Crooks on them (unless in fact MySpace is very ten minutes ago already and I am as usual genus: Fuddy, species: Duddy.)

13 comments:

Anonymous Soprano said...

I think if it were a passing phenomenon, nothing after the Magic Flute would have been attended.

It will, of course, take many years to see if it's worth it, but putting it in a lot of theatres isn't the real expense. The expense is in creating the recording in the first place, so they might as well try it out in as many places as possible.

alex said...

I also think that it will likely continue to have strong showings; it's cheaper than an opera ticket, you can buy it in advance, and I think it's got wide enough circulation that anybody who's even remotely considered attending one of the more "well-known" opera houses in the country would be positively disposed towards going to the movies. Not only that, but it's mid-day and you don't need to dress up! You get the benefits of a group audience with the comforts of being at home, although nothing is quite like hearing it in the house.

I think a large part of it is that, at least when I saw Onegin, the sound quality is really quite good, too.

Maury D'annato said...

Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying the whole thing is a flash in the pan. I'm just wary of overestimating the interest. Less wary now that anonymous soprano points out the expense isn't in putting it in more theaters, actually.

alex said...

I wonder what all the licensing details are, since a lot of them (all?) this past season have been rebroadcast on tv (yes? except here...grrr!)

does this mean that DVDs will result? I wonder what the financials look like for that.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, my space at my high school is pretty much ancient history. Facebook is the only thing high schoolers use today.

bear said...

From the NYT: "The Met had to use about $1 million in endowment money to make up the costs, but Mr. Gelb said that next year expanded showings and the sales of rights and DVDs should mean that the program will at least pay for itself, with a surplus likely."

stewball said...

Youthquake? I'm not so sure. There's a lot of white hair at the theatre I've been going to, and I'd say I regularly place in the youngest 10% of the audience, something that-ahem- doesn't happen too often. I'd say it's a bit kicky if it weren't for the nagging fear that there might be some sort of structural calamity and I'd have to step up and be Stallone.

And facebook, yeah, facebook! My current colleagues are all facebook all the time. It's too east to be resisted in any way, plus there's poking! Anyway, I joined, so it's probably over now too.

Anonymous Soprano said...

Something else to keep in mind is that if a theatre or theatre chain decides to run a film, they feel it's got enough sale potential that they'll take the risk on it. And I don't know how their contracts are setup, but I would hazard a guess that if it's not profitable to the theatre, they can drop it.

So, seeing that theatres are picking it up, I'd say that means that someone at least thinks it's a marketable idea.

Of course, it could all go bust in a year. Remember all the Hollywood "blockbusters" that didn't even make back their production costs?

Will said...

Here in the Boston area, the huge success of the METcasts in suburban theaters has convinced the big downtown movie houses to get on the bandwagon next year.

If Gelb has one big thing going for him (and I believe he actually has many) it's that he understands the rapidly changing and constantly evolving world of the media. Audio CDs are now obsolete, especially for the younger crowd who get their music via computer files rather than on any kind of solid device that requires even minimal care or storage in three dimensional space. From the splendidly managed opening night of the just-past season, he's had almost perfect pitch as far as getting the MET much higher visibility.

As to the younger crowd, if they do come to the opera in larger numbers, their heroes and heroines aren't likely to be any historical tenors and sopranos but Netrebkos, Gunns, Villazons and Papes of the opera world who are media-ready AND have voices they know how to use.

bear said...

In terms of average audience age, we had a curve-blowing experience at the Barber recast. Last in the opera line, we, the people formerly known as "the young people", were redirecting small herds of 10 yr olds into the Shrek line. Then one of those small herds turned out actually to be there for Barber. (Which was, for me, a totally "Yay!" but somewhat Marschallin-esque experience.)

Maury D'annato said...

Sind halt aso, die jungen Leut'...

Lisa Hirsch said...

In the SF Bay Area, the Met added a bunch of theaters during the first season of the HD broadcasts, and then some of the theaters added additional screens. So, the initial capacity wasn't sufficient to meet the demand.

The broadcasts are a great way to get people in to see opera on the cheap. (I haven't discontinued my first one's free policy, though - I'm taking a friend to a live Magic Flute in the fall, and I'll buy orchestra seats to that.)

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