Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Peter Gelb's Metropolitan Opera: "Happy Days Are Here Again"

Do you ever have the feeling you've been taken for a ride? Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Well, Chickpeas ... I have that feeling right now.

Yesterday, there was much ado ... hullabaloo ... and, ballyhoo surrounding Peter Gelb / the Metropolitan Opera banning OPERA NEWS from reviewing it's productions. In the span of about a news cycle-and-a-half, Peter Gelb's Met brought the hammer down on OPERA NEWS ... the operatic blogosphere and traditional media had a virtual meltdown ... and, Peter Gelb's Met then decided "to reverse this new editorial policy."

For his part, Peter Gelb said,
"I think I made a mistake. The Metropolitan Opera only exists with the good will of the public. Clearly the public would miss OPERA NEWS not being able to review the Met, and we are responding to ... [the] groundswell of disappointment."
Furthermore, the Met's press release said in part:
In view of the outpouring of reaction from opera fans about the recent decision to discontinue Met performance reviews in OPERA NEWS, the Met has decided to reverse this new editorial policy. From their postings on the internet, it is abundantly clear that opera fans would miss reading reviews about the Met in OPERA NEWS. Ultimately, the Met is here to serve the opera-loving public and has changed its decision because of the passionate response of the fans...

...While the Met believed it did not make sense for a house organ that is published by the Guild and financed by the Met to continue to review Met productions, it has become clear that the reviews generate tremendous excitement and interest and will continue to have a place in OPERA NEWS.
I don't think the groundswell from the general public (ie: the operatic blogosphere and traditional media) was based in disappointment - but, rather was based in acrimony, annoyance and disbelief at the insanity of what had transpired. I mean, let's be honest: to mandate that OPERA NEWS keep the Met beyond reproach, all the while continuing with it's glossy spreads on the Met's casts, broadcasts and star singers ... it's tantamount to operatic "state run" media.

No. I think what happened yesterday was something completely different. I think what happened was something that was hinted at by The Dowager Countess Cieca at Parterre.com - this was an exercise in the Streisand Effect.

The Streisand Effect, as defined on Wikipedia, is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide, remove or stop the dissemination of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely. Indeed, instead of being suppressed, the information receives extensive publicity and media extensions such as videos & spoof songs, often become widely mirrored across the Internet.

Mike Masnick of Techdirt coined the term after Barbra Streisand, of course whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her coastal front, Malibu residence inadvertently generated further publicity. Streisand, citing privacy violations, unsuccessfully sued photographer Kenneth Adelman and Pictopia.com for $50M in an attempt to have an aerial photograph of her mansion removed from the publicly available collection of 12,000 California coastline photographs. Before Streisand filed her lawsuit, "Image 3850" had been downloaded from Adelman's website only six times; two of those downloads were by Streisand's attorneys. As a result of the case, public knowledge of the picture increased substantially and in the following month, more than 420,000 people visited the site.

So, how many people do you think will begin (or go back to) reading the reviews of Met productions in OPERA NEWS - either in it's traditional print form or online?

Definitely something to think about ...

As is this: do we think that Peter Gelb feels like this lady does when it comes to the media?

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