OP ERA SEA SO N 2 0 1 1
C H I L E
General Director: Andrés Rodríguez P.
Teatro Municipal de Santiago
TOSCA Giacomo Puccini CONDUCTOR José Luis Domínguez DIRECTOR Pier Francesco Maestrini SET AND COSTUME DESIGN Pablo Núñez LIGHTING DESIGN Ricardo Castro
ARIADNE AUF NAXOS Richard Strauss CONDUCTOR Rani Calderon DIRECTOR Marcelo Lombardero SET DESIGN Diego Siliano COSTUME DESIGN Luciana Gutman LIGHTING DESIGN José Luis Fiorruccio
BORIS GODUNOV Modest Mussorgsky CONDUCTOR Peter Feranec DIRECTOR, SET, COSTUME AND LIGHTING DESIGN Hugo de Ana
SIMON BOCCANEGRA Giuseppe Verdi DESIGN Ramón López COSTUME DESIGN Marco Correa
DON PASQUALE Gaetano Donizetti Nicoletti LIGHTING DESIGN José Luis Fiorruccio
AIDA Giuseppe Verdi SET, COSTUME AND LIGHTING DESIGN CAROLINE KNOWS BEST?
By the Editor
Apologies for spoiling the season of goodwill with a moan, but some opera companies leave one with little option. Ta ke, for example, the Royal Opera House, which has recently launched a new ‘online viral marketing campaign’ called Danny Knows Best. Designed as a spoof of such reality TV shows as Jerry Springer, Danny (the host) invites guests to air their dirty laundry, so viewers are treated to dumbed-down opera and ballet plotlines: ‘I’m a slave in my own home, I want to divorce my family’ (Cinderella), ‘My racist father is holding me hostage’ (Romeo and Juliet), and ‘I’m sleeping with my father’s boss, behind his back’ (Rigoletto). Yes, that’s the level to which one of our greatest cultural institutions has sunk, and it suggests that in their attempt to reach a new and younger audience, those in charge are having a collective mid-life crisis.
Presumably the brainchild of Caroline Bailey, the ROH’s Director of Marketing, this expensive campaign is not just pandering to the worst elements of popular culture but utterly misguided. Displaying a complete lack of confidence in what the ROH is there to do—and, for the most part, actually does rather well—it is based on the exceedingly odd notion that people go to opera for the plots, rather than the singers and the music. It would be reassuring to hear from anyone who booked for the recent Adriana Lecouvre ur on account of the murder weapon (poisoned violets) rather than Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann, not to mention the rare chance of hearing Cilea’s score so superbly played under Mark Elder, but I’m not clearing extra space on next month’s Letters page in anticipation.
Not being a judgemental sort, I would never dare to speculate on the extent to which audiences for opera and reality TV overlap, but I think it’s fair to say that the ROH has sunk here to a newly desperate, infantile low. Would it be too much to hope for a marketing campaign that made discounted offers to potential punters who might really be interested in the ROH’s work? If it’s simply a matter of shifting tickets for a few underwhelmingly cast revivals, the loyal ROH Friends would surely snap them up— but they appear to have been excluded from this campaign’s of fers, and to judge by the blogs out there some are feeling unloved. But it’ s not too late to take advantage of the situation: as with the (much smarter) ROH offers to readers of the Sun, anyone resourceful enough can navigate their way through the Danny website to book a couple of discounted tickets for selected performances.
Moan over, and a Happy New Year to all readers. Looking ahead to 2011, there are a few composer anniversaries—the 200th birthdays of Ambroise Thomas and Liszt, the 100th birthday of Menotti—that may inspire some unusual programming, but straitened times, not to mention marketing departments, may dictate otherwise. As the Wigmore Hall’s John Gilhooly reminds us on p. 128, this month marks the centenary of the premiere of Der Rosenkavalier. Another 1911 masterpiece is L’Heure espagnole, but otherwise that year’ s new operas include such largely neglected works as Cui’s Captain’ s Daughter, Herbert’s Natoma, Lehár’s Eva, Mascagni’s Isabeau, Saint-Saëns’s Déjanire, Wolf-Ferrari’s I gioielli della Madonna and Zandonai’s Conchita. It would be nice to see a few of them again, but don’t expect any help from Danny with the plots.
Opera, January 2011