Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pondering the Death of the Sacramento Opera

This season at the Sacramento Opera was to be Handel's Orlando, Mozart's Magic Flute and Stephen Paulus's The Postman Always Rings Twice.  Only Magic Flute would most people have heard of before.

I would like to point out that the San Francisco Opera over the last decade has performed Puccini's Tosca in three different seasons, Verdi's La Traviata in three seasons, Magic Flute four seasons, including one set using Donald Pippin's English translation, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly in five different seasons.  That's one set of performances of Butterfly for every two seasons, sometimes double sets with twice as many performances as the other operas.

I don't have access to the attendance figures for the Sacramento Opera, but I would definitely recommend making a spreadsheet containing opera name, number of tickets sold and sort by number of tickets sold. Each of the top five operas should appear once every three or four years. I assume most opera companies know that they need to give their customers what they want.

Most of the gray heads in the audience (most of the audience) grew up in a time when no one even knew Handel wrote operas. Even today the primary reason for mounting one is to show off the spectacular technique of the singers. The potential audience guessed correctly that no one of that quality would appear.

Sell tickets to your opera by knowing your audience. There are a number of excellent things about the Sacramento Opera. Maybe we won't get to see them again.


Here is a footnote to my tirade about the Sacramento Opera. I decided to browse the Washington National Opera. I have friends in the DC area and would be happy for an excuse to visit them. Imagine my surprise! WNO is presenting Madama Butterfly and has had to add additional performances. I rest my case.

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