It has been proposed that opera companies are in trouble because opera itself is no longer popular. I would like to propose a different explanation.
Opera tickets are very expensive. People of my acquaintance won't even consider going to the simulcasts because they cost $20. Here in Sacramento there are seldom more than 30 people in the audience while in the Bay Area the theaters regularly sell out. People here have less money than they do there.
It was pointed out on a recent news cast that if you go to a baseball game, the stadium will be almost completely empty. Baseball tickets are also expensive.
I propose that these two phenomena have the same explanation--in the United States there is a marked decline in the financial viability of the middle class. People are now spending their money on rent, food, their children's education and perhaps cable. Baseball and opera don't appear anywhere in the budget. And lots of people are figuring out how to get television without paying for cable. We may have to go back to the drawing board.
I have carefully avoided the political part of this discussion.