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POB, advertisement and "Le Monde"


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#1 Estelle

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:37 AM

On the first page of the POB site
http://www.opera-de-paris.fr/
there is a message from Hugues Gall saying:

Communiqué :
"A l'occasion de la nouvelle saison 2003-2004, j'ai été conduit à prendre quelques décisions dans le domaine de la publicité.
Ainsi le journal Le Monde n'aime (presque) aucun de nos spectacles et ses critiques classent les productions actuelles de l'Opéra dans un registre «ringard», étranger à tout esprit d'innovation...
Il me semblait pourtant que notre très nombreux public voulait bien approuver et soutenir notre travail.
Quoi qu'il en soit, il m'a paru, dans ces conditions, inhumain d'imposer au Monde des encarts publicitaires invitant à aller voir ce qu'il condamne si radicalement.
J'ai donc décidé de ne plus faire de publicité dans Le Monde et je souhaitais vous en informer.

Hugues R. Gall"

Basically, he says that most of the reviews of the Paris Opera performances in "Le Monde" (one of the two or three main national French newspapers) are negative, ans so he has decided that there won't be any advertisements for the Paris Opera in "Le Monde".

That's the first time I see such an announcement- does anyone know about some similar "advertisement boycott" of a newspaper from a theater or company?

I suspect that it has more to do with opera than with ballet. There aren't many ballet reviews in "Le Monde" now (I do regret the period when Sylvie de Nussac, who retired in the mid-1990s, was writing there), their main ballet critics, Dominique Frétard and Rosita Boisseau, don't seem to be much interested in ballet and mostly write about modern dance. Their POB reviews are almost only about the new productions, and especially when there is some modern dance (for example I don't think that there has been any review of "Jewels" this year).
But those reviews are quite positive in general. So the problem probably is mostly about opera, this is a topic I know nothing about, and I don't read opera reviews that often, but I remember reading quite a lot of negative reviews, and also some harsh criticism of Hugues Gall's artistic policy in general (accusing him, if I remember correctly, of being interested only in selling tickets at the expense of the artistic quality).

Well, the POB is free to spend its advertisement money (well, somehow it is everybody's money as it is paid mostly by the taxpayer) as it wishes, but such a decision is strange. At least it is open, it would have been even more hypocritical to make some secret pressures on "Le Monde", threatening them to cancel the advertisement if their reviews still were negative... Yet I find it questionable. And now when "le Monde" will publish a positive review of a Paris Opera program, everybody will wonder if it is only to get some advertisement money next season!

Also I wonder if it might have something to do with the fact that "Le Monde" did publish several articles about the POB school affair and the moral harassment scandals at the Paris Opera, some of them criticizing quite a lot the Opera's direction and Claude Bessy...

In general, the relationship between some newspapers and critics and the cultural institutions seems quite complicated in France, and the deontology isn't very strict sometimes. For example René Sirvin writes some texts for the POB programs, and his newspaper "Le Figaro" is an official partner of the Opera, so sometimes one can't help wondering if it has something to do with his almost always positive reviews of POB programs; also Dominique Frétard used to write (I don't know if it still is the case) in the season brochures of the Théâtre de la Ville and also reviews their programs, etc.

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 04:37 AM

This almost sounds like a throwback to early twentieth-century America. Oscar Hammerstein I would only advertise his New York Opera House in the Sun, because The New York Times kept bombing his productions. The Shubert Brothers boycotted the Journal American for awhile. Some theater owners wouldn't let radio news personality Walter Winchell in the door! It just made him sneakier than he was before!;)

#3 Estelle

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 12:32 PM

I wonder if there have been some similar cases in other countries recently?


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