White Shirt Monday: perchance to dream

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[It’s a new dawn, it’s a new week: just hand me that hat and the hammock! – Sonia Prina (Ottone) in Vivaldi’s “Ottone in villa”, Copenhagen/Copenhagen Festival 2014]

It’s Monday morning over here, so kid golf gloves do not seem a bad idea. What also doesn’t seem a bad idea is to eventually take a a liveblog stab at that “Ottone in villa”, at the moment still available on YT, thanks to the  GBopera Channel.

Recommending or promoting YT clips has become a double-edged sword these days, resulting not only in the celebration and promotion of interpretations that we cherish, but also in channels getting warned off and deleted, often for material so innocuous that it is clear that the driving force behind the action is an algorithm, and not a human being (not even a human being paid by a copyright holder).

At the moment, it seems e.g. that anything bearing an ARTE logo is bound to disappear, so the only feasible thing is to make safety copies even when one would prefer to simply use the online repository and give the channels their due views, and the artists their due likes.

I am at the point where there are at least two channels I will not openly link to any longer, for fear of material I cherish and cannot access any other way – be it through official or inofficial channels – disappearing.

And that is sad, really. Especially considering that it is often clips on YT or saved away opera streams (which will never see the light of a DVD release, yet are kept available by opera-loving souls after their official expiration date) that will reel in new ‘clients’: for opera houses, concerts and recordings alike.

I don’t buy fewer recordings or performance tickets because of YouTube. I buy more.

If I had to name the single thing that has made me buy performance tickets and concert tickets in recent years, sometimes coupled with train or plane tickets? – It’s exposure to voices and performances on platforms like YT, and sharing them and passionately disseminating them in social media with likeminded people. That’s what moves my money.

And it is not just single incidents – it is chain reactions.

Just look at this year: in February, in between towering stacks of student papers, thadieu sent me a message saying “check out this Mitridate on ARTE” (thank you, ARTE). And I looked at the cast listing and thought “Oh, Petibon, and some Greek name I don’t know, fine, I’ll give it a listen after I am through with the student papers.”

Then thadieu sent me a screencap and another message along the lines of,”Listen to this Al destin che la minaccia. Right now.”

(The student papers remained on their stacks well into March)

But it was not just ending up spellbound by that performance (yeah, sorry. That’ll go on for a while yet). It was a chain reaction.

It was, “okay, what are these singers doing later this year?” — It was, “Oh, look, Spyres and Papatanasiu are in another Mitridate in Brussels in May!” — It was “So, who is this Lenneke Ruiten?” — It was, “Let’s liveblog that Così from Aix because I recognize all the lady singers.” (and several of us had heard Piau live in April in “Arminio”: yet more tickets sold) — It was, “Okay, now I will get a ticket for Haïm’s/Ruiten’s Delirio amoroso performance because I have a clear idea of both artists.”

It was, “Oh there, is Les Horaces under Rousset on this autumn, wait, thanks to prolongued exposure to that Mitridate, I am aware of Cyrille Dubois. Having heard him there makes me want to buy a ticket for this.” — It was, “Darn, this is  a long summer without Petibon, what else is she doing this year? I would honestly consider a Manon because of her, let’s have a look at that Geneva season.” — It was “Hey, you know what YT suggested on Autoplay after Mitridate, the 100th? A Juditha triumphans from Venice. Should we watch that?” — It was “Good Lord, who is this Teresa Iervolino and where can I hear her next?” It was “Oh, so how could I get to Ambronay for Tamerlano? I would buy a ticket for that because I saw an officially not-anymore-available show on YT that made me take note of this!”

It was people among us booking flights and clearing schedules and buying tickets to see “Alcina” in Vienna this October because “Let’s look whether we could hear Papatanasiu live somewhere.” (and that Alcina was already in the white shirt books of glory due to the 2010 Kasarova/Harteros exposure) It was, “TCE did that Mitridate, it makes me trust them, what are they doing this autumn?” — It was, “Hm. Don Giovanni.” (and some of us have tickets for that now) — It was, “On the note of Don Giovanni: the Currentzis take is finally coming out for Christmas. Oh, look at that cast list. Now I actually connect a voice and an interpretation with that because of its Donna Anna. I think that recording will go onto my Christmas list.”

And that is just 2016, and just one part of it. And that is a lot of money moving, in show tickets and airfares, just among our little group of queer opera fans.

Of course, for me, it is not primarily a thought of money – that just goes to show that, yes, dear market, giving us (free) video access to shows and letting us talk about them actually generates you MONEY, who would have thought!

For me, the most important thing moving here is not money. It is shared joy and appreciation. It is being touched by something, and being able to share that experience, too.

But it does have the side effect of sending me back to the ticket booth once more (after watching more things on YT) because of what you fellow readers share and suggest and are enthusiastic about. Because this is a grown, close-knit community with trust among its members (that elusive thing that FB so desperatly hopes to rev up to further their ad campaigns). Agathe tells me to check out that Prina or Genaux show? I will. (there is one reminder in my calendar right now to get Konzerthaus tickets). thadieu sends me a message and a screencap and says “Watch this, you will love it.”? I will.

What this also generates on the side – and thoughts of this were also behind my recent decision to finally join Twitter – is a little plus of coverage and attention for artists who move on a tight international market, especially those among them without big recording deals. It is, without even aiming at it, a chance to give something back to people (and their livelihoods) whose work has given and keeps giving so much to us (well, unless it’s artists who’d rather not have a following that will brandish the occasional rainbow unicorn, but I hope that in 2016, that’s not much of a concern any longer) – it is one more person saying “go look at this, trust me”, and other people taking a look and buying a ticket or a recording as a result.

And all this? None of it would have happened without expired opera streams that are available on YouTube.

55 thoughts on “White Shirt Monday: perchance to dream”

  1. Absolutely! Well, I have my ticket for Deutsche Oper to hear Paricia Ciofi precisely because of 1) you recommending her, and 2) hearing and liking her on YT.
    (And yes to the Ottone live blog!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep, yep, yep! While I definitely feel conflicted about streaming free content, I definitely would not have gotten into opera truly without YouTube. And not through lack of exposure to audio recordings – the visual nature of opera was the key to my conversion; it brings the music to life for ears that don’t know how to listen to the story yet. I would never have bought my first Met Live in HD and then my first live opera ticket without it. In an era (at least in North America) where opera companies are concerned about bridging the next generational gap of ticket holders, I really think accessible online content is the key!

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    1. accessible also as in “for pay”, I would agree – depending on the rates. We did the Liège Capuleti way back when for a modest price, which worked out great.

      Models like Vienna Staatsoper’s steep €14 per view (for stagings that often are neither new, nor interesting) turn me off as a stream customer. I also find the “MET in HD” events extraordinarily priced in comparison to what I usually pay to watch something in those cinemas – €28 instead of €8?! I can watch engaging live opera for less (counting standing room: MUCH less) in many European cities.

      And finally: houses (with money) who offer free streams, be it one-time or on-demand make it much more likely I will be their customer for live performances (and for pay streams with extra content).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! The Met Live in HD performances were an intermediate foray for me, and something I enjoy when there is nothing live to see (sadly our main opera company has switched to a festival model instead of having a regular season), but I do find them overpriced. And I am someone with a full time job and an active interest in seeking out opera experiences. I would be so down for renting the “On Demand” streaming versions, which end up being around $5, except that my aging PS3 can’t make it’s way to the browser – I really wish that they were available for rent on YouTube like so many movies are (or in a dream world, that they would strike a deal with Netflix). The fact that the Met recordings aren’t accessible in multiple senses of the word strikes me as such a wasted outreach opportunity. YouTube ends up being just the best way of finding anything, and is a wonderful archive of things that would otherwise languish away un-viewed.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Oh yes, YT and/or Netflix as SOD. Is opera too niche to warrant setting up the access or clearing the server space?
          I agree that the MET could reach a much more and varied audience via a better online/streaming service.
          But it’s easy to talk from Europe, where access to live opera is so much easier.

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        2. Has anyone tried renting Met HD stuff on iTunes? I noticed recently they were making some things available that way, but haven’t had time to give it a go.

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          1. I was totally just wondering about that! Thanks for the heads up – I’ll probably check it out. One of my other frustrations with accessing their content was that at the time I had my subscription I could only stream it on my phone (which I never did because of the terrible effects to my data bill), so being able to temporarily download the content through iTunes and view regardless of a wifi connection would be excellent.

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          2. oh, thanks for the heads up, stray! I will have to check that out, too. (why does the office have a Mac? Work shmork…)

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          3. I found them! It looks like there’s more content if you search titles individually than just “Met opera.” Ooo! Which one shall I try?? What are people’s Met faves?

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          4. At the moment, we’re gearing up for an “Ory” liveblog, that production is one of my MET favorites – incredible singing.

            >

            Liked by 1 person

  3. The links and excitement and discussions you’ve provided on this blog were also an essential part of my road to ticket buying! (And on that note, I can’t wait to do some catching up on the Mitridate front, since it’s been so highly recommended).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. oh, that Mitridate. *sigh* you’ll just about DIE. In a good way.
      (we do have a review set up for next September, which may just about the time where you will be able to think about watching something again…)
      And hearing that I added to inspiration to go and get tickets makes me SO happy!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. When my Mum and I went to Live at the Met the first time (it’s become a bit of a tradition) I picked Maria Stuarda because I’d read about Joyce DiDonato on your blog. And then she blew my mind and I have never recovered.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I still remembered the day i bought the plane ticket to Alcina in Wien back in 2010 without even knowing what the opera was about! all from Smorgy’s yt’s videos of VK singing Romeo plus Anik and Purity’s enthusiastic discussions on the blogs (that concept of a white-shirt bus to follow bands + singers! Dehggi has now polished it significantly for our future endeavor

      Liked by 1 person

        1. thanks😉 T and I also talked about the summer vehicle (balloon) but I haven’t got around to that one yet.

          ps: I might join y’all for the MET Ory liveblogging event if I’m around when you decide to do it. I even have it on DVD (hope it still works). But eh, the industry gets no love from me. It can die a death. All I’m buying these days is live performance tickets – though I am buying a lot of those. And that is, indeed, thanks to YT and blogs.

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  4. As a Teenage Opera Nerd of the 20th Century, it’s been interesting to watch the opera industry work its way out of the antiquated, self-strangling gatekeeping mode it got into with the advent of recording technology. I think when the next histories of opera are written, they’ll be all about how the fans, with the aid of YT, the blogosphere, and Twitter, basically rescued the art form from its own institutions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The “democratization” of recording and archiving technology has really changed the game, yet the form perseveres – the next decade should be interesting (if we manage not to bomb civilzation as a whole into ashes in that time, which these days is something I am not so sure about)

      >

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  5. I once had a dream discussing with Vivica Genaux about youtube and engaging young audience into operas🙂 . And i did tell her when i met her that it was youtube that got me introduced to operas and to her (to which she was delighted and told Fabio Biondi: oh we got another one!) I’d say without a doubt youtube was what got me into operas. Classical music, I was already into thanks to living in Boston with the exposure to free concerts, but early music + operas, for sure it was the tube. And yes, those free streams (or the Liege paid version) did nothing except to engage me even more. It’s really painful to look through my “favorite” list on tube with gaping holes where Smorgy’s channel used to be.. and for what? these take-downs are so.. i have no words for them, the ones that took down Smorgy’s , or Redpriest, or.. even coloratura’s . They’re very short-sighted in what they do (i’d even say out of touch with the younger generation). Sure there should be a line drawn somewhere, but to guard their properties that might otherwise probably never be looked at again (very old pbs publications in the US of classical music performances for examples) under a hard-line policy (and often it’s their explanation: it’s our policy) is depriving discovery and inhibiting education.

    I live in a country where I can make enough money to attend operas. But this form of arts (and any form of arts in general) requires abundance for the public to sample through to understand what they’re getting into / develop an appreciation for, especially when arts education is severely lacking. Unlike in some part of europe where one can sample a huge selection live at affordable prices and/or able to watch on TV, in this country one would have to easily fork out $95 for a seat where you can hardly see / hear the singers (that was the price i paid to sit on the 5th level in San Diego hall or LA opera house). At that price there’s simply not enough resources for anyone to develop any kind of deep appreciation.

    And yes, to use your argument, clearly my foray into tube / live streams had gotten me traveling far to seek out live performances and share with others and on a personal level developed a much deeper connection to music. And not only that, since I was given example what it is like in the US, there are even countries where this form of arts is a foreign concept (I didn’t know about “orchestra” and how sound is made until when i was 21 in the US!) global exposure/accessibility can have profound effect on the young (or even old) generations.

    Anyhow, enough of my peeves.. at least for now we have enough newbies popping up with new/old clips within an underground network.. and yes, Vienna and hopefully Paris, here i come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is sad that we are ending up trafficking things underground while we are willing to give our money to reasonably priced legal channels to support artists and give due for joy rendered.

      And yes, losing channels like Smorgy’s and coloratura’s are blows, and senseless ones at that. Especially, as you said, when it comes to material that would otherwise be lost – broadcasts that will never see the light of DVD or CD, or will never be reissued.

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  6. Yes yes yes to all of this. I know I have gone to Met HD shows to see artists/operas I learned about here, or started here and ended up in a glorious youtube rabbit hole of delight.

    (PS I envy your european options. our local house is double the price of the Met HD (more w/parking), for the cheapest, most uncomfortable, unacoustic seats all the way in the back…and lesser singers, almost entirely. they keep calling me to become a season ticket holder, and it’s hard, but on a budget I’m gonna pick the Met every time).

    (also there’s nothing wrong with the close-ups HD can offer, just saying).

    anyway, YES!

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    1. you are right, if those are the options…

      What Europe does is good old leftist state subsidaries because culture is vital and essential and makes people better and happy people, so art is a public concern and gets tax money. Opera is so insanely expensive to produce that – like is your company – there is barely a way to make it happen without either isnane debt or insane ticket prices.

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      1. “culture is vital and essential and makes people better and happy people, so art is a public concern and gets tax money”

        such good way to approach it.

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        1. Also, if my (modest) contribution goes just in one case towards subsidized tickets for people who usually could not afford them, or kids who otherwise would not get opposed to classical misic, and who then have the beauty and depth of it change their lives, or at least add to their lives: that is so worth it.

          >

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  7. there are so many places to put this.. for example, t-35,5hr to A.Hallenberg.. , or to reference Agathe’s point of early music in Amsterdam, but i think it fits exactly here because I’ve been thinking the way to really solve the problem of channels being taken down is if the broadcast networks have their own yt channel and share their broadcasts with the audience worldwide, after some blockage time or whatever! This as a prime example, note the high quality both in image and in music, happiness while we wait for the various contraltos / mezzos / green+blond delt😉
    (attempting to share time-tag, not sure if it works…, we *reallllly* need to see/hear more A.Hallenberg! and if you somehow end up at the beginning of that clip, there’s also our high priest from Juditha plus A.Fritsch, i was not aware she’s singing Vivaldi but i like her expressions.)

    (phew, wp just ate my response.. thought i had to retype, but a back-space = wp spitted out again! yay! no retype)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, great, I had glimpsed into this before (yes, may have to do with Fritsch) and had the whole performance on my list. Thanks for reminding, and it will be more fun to compare with your impressions!

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          1. How interesting, among the female voices, the sopranos are the male roles and the mezzos the females.
            Does your post for tomorrow include a summary of the plot? It seems complicated. Oh, Emilia just gave Marzia a super Hallenberg side glance…

            Liked by 2 people

          2. It’s got the gist of it, plus a libretto link.

            The show is so marvelously gay-looking that I’m beside myself with glee.

            >

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          3. The higher tessitura of the male parts is common in Venetian seria tradition (and who would complain about the chance to hear/see Fritsch do a Cesare?)

            Liked by 1 person

      1. speaking of rabbit hole.. i’m now following a 3hr video of Bajazet!!! (while fighting with how to define ocean bottom mind you).. with Biondi, Genaux, Barcellona, Custer, Im, and 2 more female singers, all female cast! i don’t want to burden you with more links.. but please please ask me and i’ll give😀 , it’s one of my fav Vivaldi , it and Juditha.. and a live performance at it..)

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          1. time-tag, b/c i love this aria, and Barcellona, Mingardo, and Basso, i’ve heard all…. Funny i’ve been thinking of pulling that cd out to listen to lately.. but there are several voices on the cd i can’t really identify.. quite nice to hear here Custer is much different than Juditha.. and Barcellona without her vibrato..

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          2. oh Barcellona sounds beautiful here. Reminds me of when I first fell for her voice – there was Tancredi, but then there was that Scarlatti arias recording, too! That ease and that sumptious tonal quality… *incoherent flailing*

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