Q Will you install those giant plasma screens in the balconies?Technological replication and dissemination certainly extracts something from an operatic performance, often something valuable -- how bizarrely fortunate are we to have a (watery) fragment of Muzio's Tosca from the very opening of the War Memorial Opera House? To have webcasts and podcasts from all major houses is long overdue.
A Yup. Soon. We're scoping out locations. We have deals to be made with our unions, which I don't see any real problem with. And we've got to get some technology in our disposal. But there will be a lot of that during my time here, a lot of outdoor casts, OperaVision in the theater, Webcasts, iPod casts. The like. We're going to move into the 21st century of high definition, audio-video technology.
But the unique quality of opera -- what, I believe, guarantees its market life as a niche luxury for as long as companies remain true thereto -- is what can't be so reproduced and extended: the costly, laborious, and very human live presentness of operatic performance. To substitute some technological facsimile for this presentness -- because I very much doubt that the screens will be unobtrusive enough to ignore -- subtracts essential value from those balcony seats affected. People therein will, it's true, hear the unmediated sound and remain within the dramatic circle of feedback, but the visual (and visual-dramatic) element will be substantially denatured -- much more than by the distant addition of a supertitle screen. It is important we see a person at risk, not a mere glow on glass.
The experience in the more expensive seats won't, I'm sure, change. Until, perhaps, audiences selected by and accustomed to video assistance decide those expensive seats aren't so good without it...
But maybe someone who's actually sat in Houston nosebleed can tell what it's actually like. The venture makes me wonder if Gockley much did himself.