While it may seem like a new thing, it isn’t! We’re talking about the live streaming of opera and ballet shows in cinemas, a partnership that the general public can enjoy in theater chains like the AMC Theaters. We love it, nonetheless, because it allows us to enjoy the so-called high arts in the comfort of a familiar place and at a more affordable price!
Goes Back a Hundred Years
In January 1910, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City started transmitting notable extracts of its opera shows, particularly I Pagliacci and Tosca, on radio. Enrico Caruso, the legendary tenor, can be heard nearly clearly from the Hudson River to New Jersey, and it was a historic moment because everybody who owned a radio can listen in on! Even then, the tickets to the opera were beyond the means of the masses but the radio transmissions made it possible for the masses to enjoy the elites’ entertainment, albeit in a limited form.
Since then, many more media partnerships were made to bring the highest of the high arts to the general masses! Every advance in technology also made it possible to introduce better broadcasts so much so that today, we can enjoy opera and ballet in theaters as if we’re in the venue itself.
The tie-ups are also evident in the United Kingdom where the likes of the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet’s performances can be streamed live. There’s also the wide availability of DVD and Blu-Ray offerings that allow people to watch these performances over and over again.
Clear and Crisp Broadcasts
Well, of course, there are concerns that the live streaming in cinemas will be sub-par in the sense that the majestic beauty of opera performances cannot be translated well on the big screen. But even the critics were silenced after watching their first opera show on the big screen – the audio and visual quality are excellent! Again, you will feel like you’re actually in the Metropolitan Opera Theater and enjoying every nuance and note of the actors’ riveting performances.
Plus, you can enjoy the show regardless of where you are seated, no binoculars necessary. You can seat in the back row and yet still have an excellent view of the show, a benefit that isn’t always possible in a theater where the actors and sets remain the same size. You may even have to use a visual aid just to get a better view in an opera theater.
There’s also the fact that a movie theater is a far more casual venue than an opera theater. You don’t have to dress up, put on your makeup, and perhaps put on your airs before watching an opera show in a movie theater. You can just come as you are – jeans, shirt and sneakers – and nobody will raise their eyebrows at your attire.
This isn’t to say that you can’t dress up when going to the movies because you can! You and your partner, for example, can dress up in your Sunday’s best and treat yourself to a night at the opera in your neighborhood cinema. You may even find more than a few people with the same mindset although we also have to say that it’s advisable to respect other people’s sartorial choices.
As we previously mentioned, the ticket prices for watching an opera show at a cinema are a fraction of the ticket prices at an opera house. Such affordability means that millions of the masses who ordinarily don’t have the financial resources or don’t live near opera houses have the opportunity to enjoy world-class productions.
Just how expensive is it to go to the opera? A single ticket can cost between $18 and $25, sometimes higher for premium shows and artists! The ticket cost doesn’t include expenses for gas, clothes and meals that add to the overall cost.
Yes, the general masses benefit from the live streaming of opera and ballet shows. But we must also say that the opera and cinema companies and their stars also benefit from it.
For one thing, both companies have an extra source of revenue that ultimately increase their ticket sales. Opera companies are open to live streaming in cinemas because it means tapping into a lucrative market. Cinema companies attract audiences during the mid-week when their venues would be otherwise empty.
For another thing, the stars of opera and ballet gain a bigger audience and it can translate to lucrative deals, such as endorsements. There’s always something good to be said about being known outside of the industry and the tie-ups make it possible.
Of course, there are critics of the live streaming and it cannot be helped. But we believe that the partnerships between the arts will only benefit the general public, especially in terms of democratizing culture and entertainment.