I should start by saying how thrilled I am that the New York Philharmonic is presenting Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen at the end of this month. Go buy tickets. The opera is wonderful, and last year’s Le Grand Macabre was a marvel; somehow, Awful Avery Fisher Hall was transformed into a Real Theater, and the performances–not just Eric’s–were fantastic. And sure, I’m also obsessed with Fantastic Mr. Fox and woodland creatures in general.
Today, the Philharmonic e mailed out the following to their list. It reads:
Meet Vix. She’s clever, she’s foxy, she’s ready for love — Vix has arrived in New York! VIX IN THE CITY – A CUNNING LITTLE TALE IN TWEETS
Follow Vix as she Tweets and vlogs about the city life of a single Fox, navigating love and the job market, with some forest-y friends in the concrete jungle.
MONDAYS through WEDNESDAYS, JUNE 6–22
What, you may be thinking, does the Bronx Zoo cobra meets Carrie Bradshaw meets Gossip Girl have to do with Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen? Fear not: there’s a VLOG. Actually, fear. Fear a lot.
Vix is played by a freelance classical music journalist who was hired by the New York Philharmonic as a consultant. Why aren’t they using a member of the cast? Why aren’t they using someone who works at the NY Phil? Why aren’t they using an actress? It’s all very confusing.
There seems to be a running…joke?…about her ex being John Edwards. We don’t know why?
I personally didn’t find last year’s Death videos from the NY Phil especially funny, but they at least showed that music director Alan Gilbert doesn’t take himself too seriously. And that is something.
The issue I really take with the campaign is this: who is it for? This video series is being posted on the Philharmonic’s Twitter account, the Philharmonic’s Tumblr account, and the Philharmonic’s Facebook page, and is being e mailed to the Philharmonic’s list; are we really the people who need a ‘Vix in the City’ vlog? Aren’t we–we who are already somewhat sold on the orchestra–the people who want to learn about the score, the production, the singers, Alan Gilbert’s interpretation, the performance history of the opera in New York City?
And if ‘Vix in the City’ is not for us, how is the rest of the city going to find it? Once they find it, what are they going to do with it?
I saw this video, also from the New York Philharmonic, the other day. It’s interesting, informative…includes–wait for it, MUSIC SAMPLES–and is really beautifully done. So watch this, try and ignore the “viral marketing campaign,” and go see the opera.
Why are people who work for classical music institutions deeply suspicious of the merits of classical music? Do marketing people sit around thinking, “This opera might be boring. Let’s youth it up.”? Do they have so little faith in the product they’re selling?