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Opera for the PlayStation generation

The big news in London this weekend is a £1 million (almost $2m) tie-up between English National Opera and Sony PlayStation to put games consoles into the foyer of the hallowed London Coliseum. This is an opera house renown for its shock tactics, as the production shot from their Don Giovanni here shows. Of course, anything to reach a new audience must be praiseworthy. Or must it? On An Overgrown Path isn’t so sure, and also has the full story


Comment from Scott
Time: February 3, 2007, 11:57 am

I, of course, don’t think that “anything to reach a new audience must be praiseworthy.” But I’m not even sure that’s the goal of these tactics. If opera is to be a popular art form (which it very much was until quite recently, and still is in much of Europe; I love the opera-singer gossip headlines of Italy’s version of the Enquirer and such), then it should be getting tied up in the trappings of popular culture. I don’t think opera can ever really be popular unless we stop treating it like a sacred object only meant to be admired from afar. (Or a-close, if you have ridiculous amounts of cash.) So why not video game tie-ins? I like video games. I like opera. I’d play ‘em. It’s maybe not the smartest marketing plan, as I can’t imagine there are many other opera fans with a video game habit, but it can’t hurt to try… There are probably wiser ways for Sony to spend their money, but if they want to blow it on opera, I say let ‘em!I guess I’m just questioning that these are really shock tactics. Even the Don Giovanni is, to me, an obvious interpretation of the material at hand. I mean, the libretto specifically describes this Spanish misogynist raping women, having sex with 1,003 people in Spain alone, and in the end getting so depraved that the dead come to life to drag him down to hell. So is it really that “out there” to make a performance of that show full of debauchery? Just a few thoughts…

Comment from Alex Ross
Time: February 3, 2007, 1:05 pm

This is a non-issue. We live in a capitalist society. If expensive opera houses are going to stick around, they will need money from big corportations. Sony putting a PlayStation in a lobby is no different than — in fact, less intrusive or obnoxious than — the Morgans and the Vanderbilts installing themselves in gaudy boxes at the Met. Pseudo-shocking opera productions are a totally different issue: they are the product of the culture of state-subsidized European theater.

Comment from JSU
Time: February 3, 2007, 1:30 pm

Three words: opera on Blu-Ray.

Comment from Steve Layton
Time: February 4, 2007, 3:19 pm

I want to see the guy who just can’t go back to his seat after intermission, because he doesn’t want to lose his score… Or the audience during the quiet overture treated to the muffled sounds of exploding bombs, car crashes, and ray guns coming through the doors from the lobby…