This year BP Big Screens will be showing The Dream / Symphonic Variations / Marguerite and Armand on 7 June, Verdi’s La traviata on 4 July and Puccini’s Turandot on 14 July. Hundreds of spectators can watch opera for free in the open at various venues throughout the UK including Trafalgar Square, Aberdeen, York and Newcastle. And with Jonas Kaufmann’s lead role as Otello being live streamed to cinemas from the Covent Garden on Wednesday 28th June (encore 2nd July), it may be a good time to rethink the value (or disvalue) of broadcasting opera on the silver screen, and whether or not it can develop new opera audiences.
Here is an article I wrote back in September 2015, which I didn’t get round to publishing online. (If you want my bibliography or list of references, I’d gladly share them with you.) I’m playing a bit of devil’s advocate with my suggestions, but I hope it gives readers an idea of the ongoing debate on whether it is an effective way of developing new audiences for a genre that is suffering from smaller audience numbers and losing confidence, particularly in the UK, due to cuts to their arts aid in a digital era where “being there” isn’t as imperative as it used to be.
Special thanks to Gate Picturehouse, the Royal Opera House and BBC Proms for offering information promptly, including Tom Nelson and Miranda Keys for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their thoughts and experiences of live broadcast. Continue reading