1. The San Francisco Opera streams its live performance of Tosca to a sports stadium.
2. The Seattle Opera held a competition to find a host for what it calls a “reality-style video project,” titled “Confessions of a First-Time Operagoer.” They chose a 19 year-old student, who’ll create an online chronicle of her first exposure to Wagner’s Ring.
These are good things. They make the opera companies more visible in their communities. They create buzz. They bring in people who wouldn’t normally pay attention. The San Francisco Opera — which has streamed opera to the stadium twice before — drew 27,000 people to its show. And seems like they knew exactly how to make this a real event:
Opera General Director David Gockley threw out the first pitch, so to
speak, in a precurtain speech from the Opera House [says a story in the San Francisco Chronicle]. After introducing
conductor Marco Armiliato, who led the ballpark and sold-out Opera
House audiences in the national anthem, Gockley poked his head out from
behind the curtain to call out, “Play opera!”
Seattle’s winner, says a Los Angeles Times blog, will
conduct behind-the scenes interviews with the artists, attend
rehearsals and even meet with the so-called Ringies, the die-hard fans
who follow “Ring” performances all over the world.
She’ll also post Facebook updates, and tweet on both her own and the opera company’s Twitter accounts.
Is all of this a little hoky? Sure. So what? It’s also fun. I’m sure the 27,000 people in AT&T Park in San Francisco had a good time. I could also say that my interests in classical music might go in other directions, but again, so what? Our field badly needs exposure and excitement. And, if what happens in pop music is any guide, the bigger and more popular we get, the more room also opens up for challenging offbeat stuff. The bigger the market, the bigger its fringe.
Every classical music institution, big or small, should do things like these. And not just once, or once a year — repeatedly, over and over, so people (even people who might never want to go to a performance) know that the institutions are there, and that they’re constantly doing new things.
As Leonard Slatkin said this week, assessing the condition of the Detroit Symphony (where he’s now music director):
We need to become more of a presence in the community. Not everybody goes to hockey games, but everybody knows about the Red Wings. A lot of their people do very good things in the community. We need to be like them. We want more people to know about the DSO.