Where would you go to see opera in cinema?

party2So further to my rant the other day about the ROH and ENO approach to their cinema broadcasts in Canada and the Met’s lock up with Cineplex Odious…

Suppose one were responsible for marketing the Royal Opera or ENO’s product in Canada what would you do?  Personally I wouldn’t worry about signing up loads of suburban and small town fleapits.  I’d go for the where the opera audience is in the downtown areas of the cities that have opera companies and maybe university towns.  I’d also go for the upscale theatres with decent sound and bars with decent beer and that sort of thing.  In Toronto that would be the TIFF Lightbox and Bloor Hot Docs.  Elsewhere I don’t know but I’d like to push the idea with the ROH marketing folks so any ideas on the “right” cinemas in Montreal or Vancouver or even Hamilton would be most welcome.

12 thoughts on “Where would you go to see opera in cinema?

  1. I can’t comment about the ROH and ENO coverage in Canada, but I believe within the UK they aim to enable people who otherwise couldn’t get to the opera because of location or economics to access their productions.

    This does require a tie in to a cinema distributor, and so rules out many smaller localities.

    It may well be that they do this for political reasons as well as potentially increasing their audience: it is good to be seen to be being less elitist…

    It is also possible that they don’t see Canada as their core market, right or wrong that may be.

    Of course, it is early days for this kind of technology: cinemas have only been showing opera and theatre productions over here for maybe three years. (I think the Met may have been an early adopter, and so got a head start.) Their approach may well change. (I saw a comment on your earlier post that suggested you get in touch with ENO and ROH; you may find they hadn’t really considered the market much and are just testing it out.)

    Presumably, if they can broadcast to cinemas, they can also enable streaming or downloading, or, with time, better quality DVD or Blu-ray releases.

    • Most of the ROH broadcasts do end up on Blu-ray and they are pretty good but pricey and after the fact. The problem for a broader distribution approach in Canada is that the Met and Cineplex have the market pretty much sown up with a product the ROH can’t match; “live” broadcasts in a regular and convenient time slot, so I think they can never aspire to be more than niche here. I am in touch with the ROH’s marketing people and I’m hoping that they may be persuaded to see things my way! I also understand that in the UK the opera companies want to be seen as covering a demographic different from their house audience but I see no such political imperative in their export product.

  2. Your suggestions regarding theatre locations in bigger centres would seem spot on for the Canadian market. Perhaps in the UK, the ROH and ENO focus more on cinemas in smaller towns without as much access to live opera, but for them to market their HDs over here it would make sense to focus on a few theatres in places where they know there’ll be a reasonably-sized audience. For many years in Hamilton when I lived there, we had a wonderful repertory cinema called the Broadway – alas gone for many a year now. That would have been the perfect venue there – in fact, I remember seeing Zeffirelli’s Traviata and Otello there as well as the Carmen with Miguenes-Johnson. Nowadays, they’d probably just have to find a more conventional chain theatre to take them on. Still hoping that Hot Docs in Toronto might show a few of the ROH transmissions as they have been doing and maybe ENO can persuade them to show a few of theirs as well.

      • If anyone comes to mind, I’ll let you know. I see they have 3 screenings planned for 15-16 and a few encores which their website says will be shown internationally, but can’t see any way to find out exactly where! Wonder if Ambur Braid will be the Queen in their Flute transmission – great for her if so!

  3. I’d like to go anywhere but cineplex but here in Thunder Bay that’s all we have. I’ve never actually seen an ENO or ROH production. If they had an online streaming platform for the old productions like on the met website I would pay to watch them. The met streaming prices are reasonable at $15 a month, I’m not going to spend 30 pounds to buy a blu-ray of a single opera.

    I should mention that for a fairly small city (100000 pop) we had a pretty good turnout at the last met broadcast I was at. And I wasnt the only one under 30.

  4. I’m disappointed that the ROH doesn’t appear to have returned to Edmonton; the series was shown by Landmark last year and the year before as was the Royal Ballet (which now has returned/moved to Cineplex? not sure what happened there). It was a slow start, but the last few showings I attended had a good sized audience, at least as large as I’ve seen at the Met broadcasts, or the (UK) National Theatre ones.

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