After having written about the LA Phil’s upcoming experiment with broadcasting live to movie theaters and comparing it to the Met HD project, I was interested to come across another take on the whole concept from a Canadian professor of management:
Recently I attended my first Live in HD broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s das Rheingold….I came away from it thinking about the difference between witnessing a live production and witnessing a Live in HD broadcast. Tickets for live in HD are a lot less expensive and, at least for this production of this opera, it gives you a much closer view than any seat at a live performance. I don’t expect that Live in HD would cut into the Met’s sales, and indeed there are Live in HD presentations in New York City. (This differs from the standard practice in many sporting events of blacking out broadcasts within the immediate vicinity).
I wondered, however, if the Live in HD performances of the Met wouldn’t cut into the market for regional opera companies. I posed this question to my co-authors of Digital State at the Leading Edge, and received a detailed and thoughtful reply from Perri 6 that made 3 points. First, people go to live performances to interact with other members of the audience and for the interaction between performers and audience, the latter especially if the audience is small and the performance space intimate. Second, close-up may not be the best way of enjoying a performance. Third, while the sound in Live in HD is powerful, it is mixed and blended by the production team, and is likely different from the sound in different places in the hall. Someone may buy a particular seat in the hall because they prefer the sound as heard in that location. The general consensus of my colleagues was that the experiences are sufficiently different that the Met’s Live in HD will not kill regional opera.