[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.