The Column: Are Live Broadcasts Good for Classical Music?

By James Inverne on Jan 21, 2014 03:12 AM EST

Not every question has a ready-made answer. Not every answer to the same question will be identical. I have a question, and I don't know the answer, nor do I know whether the answer will be different in different places. So, I'll just get on and ask it, and maybe we'll see. The transposition of operas, ballets, concerts, plays and musicals (we'll leave sporting events out of it for now) to the cinema has been judged as a great success. People are even often unable to get in, so popular are these events in some locations. But when cinecasts were pioneered, by Glyndebourne and the Met among others, there were some voices of dire warning that this would erode audiences for the local live experience.

Here's the question: has it? I ask because a close friend recently told me how he and his wife go to see opera in the cinema at least once a month. The Royal Opera, the Met--nothing but the best. I can't remember the last time these once avid theater-goers went to see an opera on a stage, in a theater.

Now, they live in the sticks, so it would be at least a 90-minute journey for them to catch, let's say, Welsh National Opera when they come anywhere within touching distance. But once upon a time they would make that journey. Now? Well, a cinema visit has most of the excitement of the live event for them (and the cinema audience applauds just as their counterparts in London or New York do, it's all very interactive feeling) and this way they sate their thirst for the form.

Let's turn the question around, though. Does anybody know of anyone who has had their first-ever experience of opera in a cinema and been moved to then catch the in-person experience at an opera-house?

Email us and let us know. Or post below. I'm really curious. Several years in, with the movement at full pelt, is it a good thing or a bad thing? Do we know?

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TagsJames Inverne, The Column, Glyndebourne, Metropolitan Opera, Welsh National Opera, English National Opera

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