Is opera now more popular than ballet?
Posted 20 September 2002 - 04:20 PM
Posted 20 September 2002 - 04:36 PM
I think NYCO had a great marketing campaign to get younger people in, they did heavy promotions on college campus in and around NY, they also did a heavy phone/mailing campaign. And in an odd way, I always wonder if opera is better off not being reviewed as often. On a related thread, I can't recall who brought it up (apologies) but the lack of decent review(er)s is IMO hurting the ballet. To see a half of a half of a column in the NY Times for a ballet review, that doesn't name dancers, just says that they performed it and the orchestra sounded good, seems to be happening more and more. If the paper doesn't even want to go into it, why should I (an example of I think not printing it would've served better)
I for one, went to a few operas, just because friends went, I'm not an opera fan, but they had "new" programs that at least I could say I went (and not liked, as opposed to just saying I didn't like it)
Even now, they have a production of "Dead Man Walking" going on. I can't imagine that being an opera, which is the very reason I'd go see it. As opposed to Dracula on pointe!
Posted 21 September 2002 - 02:21 AM
I don't know about the New York scene, but Classical ballet has a very strong spiritual side that is being overlooked... in fact I will venture to say that ballet is the most spiritual of all the arts. Beauty, Innocence, Orderliness, Vitality and Joy... these are all spiritual qualities, and classical ballet has them all in abundance. These things deserve promotion.
Posted 21 September 2002 - 03:16 AM
Personalities can be created in a ballet story, but there was no story and no pesonalities performing in the diamond project that I could see... just moving bodies and music. Where is Giselle, where is Clara, where is Odette, where is Juliet, where is Aurora? Where are the poeple we can love and get excited about? Is this the reason for the boredom?
I don't know much about opera, but I know that the opera singer has a personality. People know them and they talk about them. How can I get to know ballet performers in an abstract ballet? Who am I coming to see?
Posted 21 September 2002 - 12:23 PM
There are a lot of reasons for this--
ronny gives one, that opera singers are stars. They have to be, since they are generally free-lancers, singing for their supper at different houses in different roles. Fans buy CDs and line up to hear their favorite singer's interpretation of their best roles.
The introduction of sur-titles has also helped. It takes away one reason for NOT going--even if you don't know the language in which the work is performed, generally the case, you can still follow the story. There is still a lot wrong with sur-titles. I don't think they work well for Mozart, but are acceptable for much of the nineteenth century Italian rep, for example. But they do make the experience less "estranging" if you will.
Along with sur-titles is the question of story or narrative. While The plots can be simple ("Tosca", "Jenufa") complex ("Marriage of Figaro", "Aida") fanciful "The Magic Flute") incomprehesible ("Trovatore") or just over the top ("The Ring of the Niebelung"), but they are narratives which are based on familiar stories or at least stories with familiar elements and are told in both words and music.
And the words are important, especially to the casual opera-goer, because they make it much more understandable.
While much of ballet is based on familiar stories, especially fairy tales, the method of transmitting these stories--music and movement--is not something many people are comfortable with.
It is why dreck like "Dracula on pointe" sells out--or at least one reason. People know the story, have seen it in a number of media and can more easily follow it.
Posted 21 September 2002 - 01:16 PM
I think it was Arlene Croce who said that something like "ballet is only good when it is great." What made ballet so exciting in the 70's was the sheer amount of great talent: at NYCB (Verdy, Martins, Anderson, Tomasson, McBride, Farrell, Ashley, Kirkland, etc., etc.), at ABT (Makarova, Gregory, etc. ) Every night you went, you saw a great performance!! How many people can really say that today in the ballet world? Please, this is not to say that we have not had some outstanding performances recently. Just that the world larger than the insular ballet world has not "heard" how good a Wendy Whelen (or name your favorite today) performance can be.
In the opera world today, there is a lot of up and coming and genuine talent. The public who follows the performing arts sort of learns what's really good by word of mouth. I was at the New York State Theater on Thursday night for NYCO's Il Trittico, and it was so nice to see a sold-out house. People were really "into" the performance because it was a good one. They will be looking to see what, when and where Mark Delavan (as well as Maria Kanyova) will be singing next; they will come back for more opera. However, there hasn't been a sold-out house for NYCB in quite a while. The audience will start to come back as soon as word gets out that "you can't miss so-and-so in X ballet. He/she is fabulous."
Posted 22 September 2002 - 06:37 AM
Posted 22 September 2002 - 07:55 AM
Posted 22 September 2002 - 07:58 AM
I've been taught since my first dance history classes that there's a correlation between opera and ballet through history. When one is up, the other is down. Opera is more exciting now -- more stars, as has been noted -- and also more television coverage, which feeds off the stars. But in the 1960s, when there certainly were great opera singers, ballet was more popular.
In Washington, the ballet audience from the early days of the Kennedy Center, when we had New York City Ballet and the Royal Ballet with some regularity -- and when both companies were in better shape than they are now -- there was a very different ballet audience here than there is today: older, more or a fine arts audience. They stopped subscribing -- this is anecdotal, by my eye, watching the audience, and by friends of mine who were in that audience -- and many have switched to opera, whether or not they were opera fans before, because they want serious art (see the news clip from the Miami Herald about audience age and the arts).
Posted 22 September 2002 - 06:05 PM
Ballet, on the other hand, is pretty popular among the plentiful number of dancers here. Even then, the majority of the teen scene isn't so interested in the fine arts. Alexandra, you're right. They do back away from me at the thought of both.
Posted 27 September 2002 - 02:12 PM
The same cannot be said for ballet audiences here. Compared to the opera, I've noticed a decided greying (although no audience is as elderly as the symphony's). And, I am sad to say, there are often too many empty seats.
Of course, until the past few years, Chicago has never had a resident ballet company that was really worthy of the name. The Joffrey certainly has been a wonderful and sorely needed addition to Chicago's cultural life. I hope to see its audience increase (and my husband and I do our part by bringing a large group of students to a Joffrey performance each year).
Posted 01 October 2002 - 02:05 PM
Maybe "The Company" will do it for ballet?
My fingers are crossed.
Posted 01 October 2002 - 04:10 PM
The Three Tenors? Ha. I can't think of two people that can actually name them.
Posted 01 October 2002 - 04:28 PM
"Centerstage" was a lousy movie though. Couldn't see it inspiring anyone to go to the ballet.
Posted 01 October 2002 - 05:07 PM
Originally posted by Old Fashioned
The Three Tenors? Ha. I can't think of two people that can actually name them.
Well, I can. Pavarotti, Domingo and that other guy.
Unfortunately I can't think of very many people (actually none) who bought a ticket and went to the opera based on a concert or CD. There was a concert here in Motown at Tiger Stadium in 1998 that the Michigan Opera Theater used to raise a ton of money by convincing the Tenors to do a dress rehearsal at the Detroit Opera House in front of invited guests. People were invited based on contributions to the MOT, so they did well.
Which is a fine thing--opera is a ridiculously expensive art form.
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