Affordable Opera for the Masses

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By Febbie P. Moore

November 10, 2012 over 100, 000 people watched a live production of The Tempest at the Metropolitan Opera (Met). A small percentage of those viewers were from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Local DC area theaters, such as the Mazza Gallerie 7 in Chevy has been offering live high definition broadcasts of operas from the Met since 2006. The November 10th showing of the Tempest at the Mazza theatre sold out. Ticket prices for the broadcast ranged from $18 for children, $22 for seniors and $24 for adults. To see this performance in person at the Met in New York would cost from $65 to $525 per ticket.

Under the Artistic and sometime controversial direction of General Manager Peter Gelb ticket sales for the Metropolitan Opera greatly improved. A major reason for the increase in ticket sales is the live broadcast of its operas in movie theaters. The less expensive ticket prices at the theater make the Opera accessible to a larger group of people instead of just to the individuals who could afford one of the 3800 seats at the Met Opera House in New York.

The Met, like other art institutions in the country, has seen shrinking audiences and a decline in revenue. The opera has long been viewed as an art form enjoyed by the elite and the privileged. In 2006 Gelb pushed the radical idea of live opera performances in movie theaters. Gelb wanted to target opera lovers and to create future opera lovers. Gelb also hoped to attract a younger audience to augment a shrinking older audience. Take a bow Mr. Gelb; your idea has been wildly successful.

Disclosure: Febbie Moore is a photojournalism major at the Corcoran College of Art and Design.


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