Last week I was at the National Performing Arts Conference in Denver (which explains my brief hiatus from this blog), and I went to a presentation at Opera America assessing the success of the Met Opera’s Live in HD initiative. While it may have been unexpected news for some, I was not surprised to learn that the folks that go to these productions are primarily already opera-goers and -lovers. They are overwhelmingly middle aged, white, upscale, urban culture-lovers who have merely found another avenue to enjoy opera. While the statistics do show that some small percentage of the audience (I recall something under 15%) said it was their first opera experience, this opera experience was by no means a “starter” event for most attendees.
More to the point, the respondents overwhelmingly reported that going to the movie theater to see opera would very likely encourage them to go to see the live experience. The biggest takeaway for me is the same one I’ve been seeing for years.
Exposure in video or television to something that is otherwise a live event only heightens the interest in the live experience, rather than replacing the need for it.