Receive a weekly collection of news, features and reviews
I think the problem with US funding as I understand it, is that until quite recently, orchestral players were fairly well paid. Now that there are more financial constraints, and presumably less philanthropic donations , a few problems have arisen. Most notably with the Minnesota orchestra, though this seems to have been sorted.
The whole issue of funding, particularly for opera, is and interesting and perplexing one. Adrian's right when he talks of the Met's ability to produce and market their product. I'd be interested to take a look at their revenues from broadcasts and dvds as well as live performances. Certainly, they look on dvd sales as a fundamental source of income, not just an add-on. They've elected to stay with HD dvds instead of moving to blu-ray. Cynics predict they'll make the switch later so that those who want the new medium will have to duplicate their purchases. Regardless, you can bet their decisions are based on dollars and cents. Similarly they're careful about what they release and at what price. Predicting potentially poor sales for dvds of their production of The Nose, they have no plans to put it out even though there's next to no competition. Zimmerman's production of La Sonnambula originally came out at an all-time knock-down price, presumably anticipating sales only to the curious after the slamming it got from many critics. Since a flood of largely supportive reviews on Amazon the price has just about doubled.
Many opera companies have reacted to funding difficulties by slimming-down their productions. The Met has dabbled in this particular trend but knows which side its bread is buttered. Dowagers from upstate New York want their opera with the word 'Grand' in front of it and, to be fair to them, many are prepared to back their taste with generous endowments.
Given opera's perennially-limited audience the balance between production costs and revenues will always be a difficult one to maintain. Composers like Britten recognized this 70 years ago by writing works for small forces. But as long as mainstream means Verdi/Puccini/Strauss/Wagner with the bel canto boys and some Mozart thrown in, corners will be hard to cut. The Met has placed its bets on a massive expansion of its audience through technology and certainly it's going to be difficult for the likes of Opera North to compete. There are niches, though. I, for one, would far sooner see a production of Albert Herring or L'Orfeo in an intimate setting than at the Met.
Further to my recent posts about this, has anyone read the reviews about this or been to see it live?
If you have still any doubts listen to it on R3 next week.
Join the Club today and receive all three great Gramophone products for just £106 per year.
An £86 saving than if bought separately.
The latest news, features, blogs and reviews delivered weekly to your inbox!
User our new store map to help you find your nearest Gramophone stockist
If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.
Gramophone is brought to you by Mark Allen Group
Gramophone is part of MA Music, Leisure and TravelAbout Mark Allen Group | International licensing