Tonight's alternate-cast performance of Butterfly is being sold as "Meet Me at The Met": a singles event for the 40+. (Mama Matchmaker Met cultivates its under-40 donor base through a Young Associates Program of fairly recent vintage.) They have, however, had some problem scaring up enough eligible men.
Leaving aside any "they're all gay" or "they want younger women" sniggering, is this sort of one-off event really the best way to go about this? Presumably the Met isn't going to this trouble just from sympathy for the matrimonially-challenged of their audience. They do sell tickets (at a pretty good discount, though) and generate buzz for an otherwise uneventful performance, but that seems hardly worth this trouble.
More important, I'm sure, is the long-term benefit in goodwill from those for whom the house will have facilitated, if not a love match, at least a memorable evening of hope and nice clothing. But I wonder if those who think fondly of the Met for the overtly, unabashedly social side displayed tonight will really return -- and donate -- more regularly after. Every night at the opera has, as I've said, some social element, but most of it's pretty circumscribed. (Personally, I've had many great evenings with friends and relatives at the opera, and talked to many nice old ladies while alone, but never first met a friend or girlfriend there.) Will tonight's acquaintances bloom into new lasting network connections for operagoing at least? That would change the future dynamic a bit.
Might not a more regularly scheduled singles' space be more effective all around? It could improve one aspect of operagoing fairly permanently for many. True, if improperly done it could also tarnish the brand, but that's not a given.
Of course, maybe Mama Matchmaker Met is mostly trying to sell the notion that it cares, to seal an emotional bond with champagne and attractive company. Not that there's anything wrong with that.