Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New York opera fans: shut down and feeling insulted

As was discussed yesterday, the Met proved that all of it's "we're cutting-edge ... we're 21st century" messaging is just that - messaging. In other words, they're not acting very "21st century" when they corner a blogger and intimidate him into shutting down his 15 year old labor of love. All because sometimes the site "contains errors"; and because it apparently "muddied negotiations with artists".

The Met doesn't seem to understand that in this age of new media - a time when traditional marketing, public relations and advertising have given way to the influences of social media and bloggers - you should never bite the hand that feeds you.

So, you have the Met biting one hand and City Opera chewing off their arms. And, the City Opera drama continues.

Our Mommy Dearest, La Cieca, reported yesterday that she was copied on a letter sent by what she terms a "long-time patron of NYCO" in response to City Opera's Subscription Renewal Brochure. A portion of that letter reads:
I have always been a rather thrifty and low-end tickets buyer. When a certain amount of money is available, I like to get the largest number of performances, and have never felt I was missing much by sitting in the fourth or even fifth ring. My first Sills Manon was a one dollar ticket in the fifth ring of a sold out performance. No problem. Everything came across to my satisfaction.

Last year, my fourth ring subscription tickets came to (I believe) 12 dollars per seat. I saw all the operas, as well as the additional “concerts” and although I was not quite wild about everything, the City Opera has long provided an incentive to see unusual things at a reasonable price. I would not be in a hurry to see any of them again, but I don’t regret having seen them once. Even Seance on a Wet Afternoon, which, if little else, had interesting and committed performances.

This year, it appears that the least expensive ticket will be $60. Or $48 if one chooses to attend all four and get the discount. I’d say that is quite a jump.

In addition, I suspect that traveling from the Bronx to and from BAM ( although I have done it on very special occasions) might be a bit more than I want to undertake for Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna or Jonathan Miller’s take on Traviata. To speak of BAM, John Jay and El Museo as “curated venues” (whatever that actually means) strikes me as a bit euphemistic. And as for the “specially-curated subscription series,” well that strikes me as a bit too much “curating” to be claimed in one letter.

In short, I feel quite insulted by your brochure. The extremely offhand and casual way you present a 400% or 500% ticket price increase and a move to what seem like rather substandard (however “curated”) venues is especially insensitive.
According to The New York Times, City Opera's George Steel is taking it all in stride:
"I manage for the future. If I have to take tomatoes from here to there, I can live with that."
That's all well and good, Mr. Steel - but, sooner or later, the future becomes the present. When it does, something tells me you'll be singing a different tune when you're still being pelted by the tomatoes.

Stay tuned, Chickpeas - I'm sure there will be more to come.

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