I’ll be appearing today on WNYC’s Soundcheck with John Schaefer at 2:00 p.m. ET for a debate about simulcasts and what they hold for performing arts groups. Most folks are likely well aware of The Metropolitan Opera, which pioneered the efforts but this season sees the influx of big budget orchestras into the mix including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic…
Per Soundcheck’s program description:
As opera houses and orchestras simulcast their performances into movie theatres across the country, critics charge that it’s turning classical music into a cheap reality show. Fans say it’s as addictive as popcorn. It’s our Soundcheck Smackdown debate.
Tim Page Professor of music and journalism at the University of Southern California and former Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic at the Washington Post and Drew McManus, an orchestra consultant who writes the blog Adaptistration, debate whether these screenings are a way to make opera accessible to more people…or just cheap seats.
I believe John will be taking calls at one point and you can listen along at the station’s website. The number is 212-433-9692, or people can leave a comment on their website at wnyc.org/soundcheck.
Here’s the audio from today’s segment:
Update, 1:44pm CT: Post Smackdown Thoughts
IT was a fun debate and I’m really glad to see Soundcheck jumping in with this format, I hope other stations will follow suit. But one point I wasn’t able to get in due to time constraints is this: there’s no denying that simulcasts extend the reach of performing arts organizations but if the bigger budget leaders in the field who are jumping into the market sincerely have the field’s best interests at heart, they’ll include PSA style messages pushing theater goers to attend local, live performances. Even better, they’ll include a list of local ensembles so patrons know where to look.
Without that, I have a hard time believing that this will benefit the field more than a few organizations.