Shift Happens because of digital development (does Seattle Opera miss the opportunity though?)
8 October 2009
Remember the “old” Shift Happens video? Its been updated, and makes the old 2007 version seem ludicrously out of date – watch here:
And check out Seattle Opera’s Confessions of a first-time movie goer: sorry existing opera goers, you are not young or cool or “fit” according to Seattle Opera’s latest ambassador, Cassidy. Seattle Opera say:
What is opera like to a newcomer? This art form definitely has certain stereotypes associated with it, and it can be intimidating to a newbie! So what happens when we take an opera neophyte, show them the ins and outs of what it takes to put an opera on stage, and then expose them to the Mount Everest of all operas, Wagner’s Ring cycle? We are capturing those experiences with our video production partner, Reel Grrls, in our new reality-style video series titled “Confessions of a First-time Operagoer,” in which we are chronicling a young adult’s adventures attending the Ring. The host, who was selected via a public online vote (over 6,500 votes cast!), is exploring Seattle Opera from the inside out, taking a behind-the-scenes peek into the creation of the Ring, meeting some of the Ring artists, and receiving advice from Ring veterans, all of which culminates in attending her very first Ring cycle. How does a young opera novice respond to Wagner’s monumental, epic cycle? We’re going to find out, and we are documenting every minute along the way!”
I say, this project unfortunately does more for Cassidy’s media profile than it does for the profile of Seattle Opera, and the notion of opening up opera to newbies; but that’s been quite a big risk for Seattle Opera, I imagine. Perhaps there is a longer-term view on the relationship with this group of film makers, and the content certainly has a high programme making quality and aesthetic. This digital format of exploratory/behind-the-scenes programme agrees with digital natives: I’ve tested it on my Being Digital students at Edinburgh Napier University (average age 18) – they like the format, they now know a bit more about opera and how its made and who makes it, and they like Cassidy as an up and coming broadcaster – “she is good at “mocking” the establishment”. But they still don’t want to go to the opera – they feel that they know what they like already, and that they wouldn’t fit in. I wonder if it may have been a better bet to get lots of young people in, and have given them tools to help them appreciate the music and the action – perhaps by allowing them to send and receive tweets in their seats, and think of things that might help them not feel awkward in the foyer. I’m just not sure that this project achieved its aims if the aims were to extend new and young audiences: sure it used digital media, but perhaps it did not land quite as well with the target market in terms of end message (go to the opera, you’ll like it and it will feel OK). What do others think?