Metropolitan Opera Company breaks fundraising record

The New York Times reports: “In the warren of Met administrative offices, the people who run one of the world’s busiest opera houses had something else to applaud: a record amount of contributions for the fiscal year that ended in July. According to preliminary figures released for the first time, the Met hauled in $182 million, an astonishing amount in a tough economic climate and 50 percent more than it raised just the year before.”

In arts offices around the world, questions are being asked about this outcome. Is this an endorsement for the Metropolitan Opera’s revolutionary electronic distribution in theatres; a vote of confidence for their current artistic direction; or simply the effect of donor behaviour–backing core arts groups in hard times?One major donor David Knott agrees with the electronic distribution policy saying it was a decision that “if we can’t bring people to the opera, let’s bring opera to the people”. He put his money where his mouth was in making a $500,000 one-time gift and pledging a bequest to the company through it’s planned giving program. Electronic distribution certainly seems to be a way to follow the market. In its 2003 study “The Magic of Music”, the Knight Foundation found that while 60% of Americans listened to classical music, only 5% had ever entered a concert hall. Listening to classical music is not declining, going to concert halls is declining. Smart, business-minded donors like David Knott will be more inclined to invest in arts organizations that make decisions soundly based on audience trends, it would seem.

In a time when 2 out of 3 arts organizations have sustained a decline in income, the phenomenal success of the Metropolitan Opera in increasing its donations has to be seen as tied to the most significant new part of its program, the electronic distribution of opera in theatres. This fact should be an encouragement to those trying to pioneer new methods of distribution and electronic outreach initiatives. From my own work in virtual music, I know that resistance to new forms of distribution seems like a brick wall at times, but smart donors are rewarding those arts organizations bold enough to break through to reach their audiences outside the concert hall.

Bread and Roses Life, L. Rogers
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A Barbie Opera for the 21st Century

I love the zany minds at Toca Loca, not to mention their prodigious talent. Perhaps it is only because I am so active in Second Life that I draw parallels between the Barbie dolls of their upcoming “marionette opera” production and the Barbie doll-like avatars that are so prevalent in the current Metaverse.

Just as the press release for Toca Loca’s upcoming production states, there can be a dark side to the beautiful perfection and cheerleader smiles of avatars. The cruel side of human nature seems to feel free to be expressed at a safe remove from the real.

XXX Live Nude Girls


August 6th 4:30pm
August 8th 8:30pm
August 10th 6:30pm
August 12th 10:30pm
August 15th 6:30pm
August 16th 12:30pm

A Barbie Opera for the 21st Century!
Though partly inspired by the marionette operas of Mozart and Haydn, Jennifer Walshe’s XXX Live Nude Girls will never be seen at the Four Seasons Centre. Her gritty, lo-fi score drives this exposé into the shiny plastic world of Barbie.

Produced by Toca Loca and directed by Graham Cozzubbo in conjuction with the Summerworks Festival, XXX dispels the stereotype of boys making war while girls host garden parties. Truth is, when playing with Barbies, cruel abuses are often closer to the rule than the exception. Sometimes the sweet girls just ain’t that sweet.

Starring Patricia O’Callaghan, Christine Duncan, Ginette Mohr and Kate Fenton.

The Company
Graham Cozzubbo – Stage Director
Gregory Oh – Music Director
Jennifer Walshe – Composer
Lina Marquez – Costume Design
Yesim Tosuner – Graphic Design
Daryl Banks – Photographer
Ginette Mohr – Puppets
Kate Fenton – Puppets
Christine Duncan – Vocals
Patricia O’Callaghan – Vocals
Max Christie – Clarinets
Mary-Katherine Finch – Cello
John Lettieri – Accordion
Steve Ward – Trombone
Derick Greenly – Video/Tech
Callan Burgess – Video

Festival Info:

Warning: Crude Language, Explicit Sexual Content, Sexual Violence and Doll Nudity. This show is not suitable for children.

Bread and Roses Life, L. Rogers
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