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AD: Fans, Friends & Followers

Monday, October 27, 2008

Opera in D-Cinema: Does it Whet the Appetite?

I thought this was a really interesting piece in yesterday's Boston Globe, focusing on the success of live opera distributed to digital cinemas.

Jeremy Eichler writes:

    Two years ago, opera simulcasts in movie theaters did not exist; today they are wildly popular. What only recently seemed like a novel, vaguely exotic cultural activity has for many become a familiar ritual on the local musical calendar.

    Yet beyond the excitement it has generated, this new wave of high-tech cultural populism is also transforming the ecology of opera in Boston, where the two main companies offering live performances - Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Boston - must now grapple with what it means to have the Met juggernaut landing right next door.

    There is no mistaking its momentum. Back in December 2006, only one local theater - in Framingham - screened the first Met simulcast. Last year, the number of greater Boston theaters carrying the broadcasts was up to seven, with 21,000 tickets sold. (By comparison, the combined attendance for all 18 of the Boston Lyric Opera's mainstage performances last season was about 24,000.)

This season, three new theaters in Boston have decided to begin playing opera. Eichler asks how all this is affecting the city's opera companies... and whether it is creating new fans.

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