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The Art of the Switch


This creative little clip, posted by the Royal Opera House in support of the premiere run of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera Anna Nicole, plays up exactly the kind of trashy, can’t-look-away vibe you expect from the subject matter, but also boasts much higher production values than I would have assumed I’d see in a piece of online opera marketing. Yet the real shocker to me is the bait and switch game being played (intentionally or not) on viewers. The fine print on YouTube notes: “Watch the trailer for the world premiere of Anna Nicole, highlighting some key moments in her provocative life. Please note the music in the trailer is not the music from the opera.” (emphasis mine)

Now, you could argue that the video is just trying to get a vibe going to generate a little box office excitement, and I would happily concede the point if samples of the actual music where also readily available for ticket-buyer preview. If they are anywhere to be found on the internet, however, I haven’t found them.

Why do this? Am I being too cranky? I really like the video, but I’m stuck on this point. Does it work for you? My mind thinks it already knows what this show is going to sound like, and I know for a fact that it is wrong. Without any of the actual music to engage with pre-show, to me this is setting up a user experience akin to fast food joints that advertise a juicy hamburger on a fluffy bun when those with experience know perfectly well that’s not what you’re going to find when you hit the drive-thru and open up the wrapper on yours. If you go in honestly expecting food as advertised, however, you’re destined for disappointment. And would you ever order from such a restaurant again if what you actually ended up with was a completely unanticipated fish sandwich?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, watching that video so many times got the music they did use (Age of Consent’s Heartbreak) stuck in my head and I need to go download it.

an ArtsJournal blog