I happened upon Los Angeles Opera’s re-designed website the other day and immediately noticed a bold, new marketing initiative designed, no doubt, to bring in the novice listener, the kind that is frightened of opera, or otherwise unsure of the art form. “Lose Yourself In Opera” the site encourages, and then offers some helpful hints on how you might go about doing that.
For instance, you might buy a ticket to something called Eugene Onegin. “What that?” you say. “From the composer of Swan Lake!” LA Opera answers. (Gosh, is Natalie Portman in it? She’s hot.)
Or how does Romeo et Juliette strike your fancy? Too French? Unsure? It’s “The World’s Most Famous Love Story,” LA Opera explains and then as it dawns on you that it’s that Romeo and Juliet you click on the icon and buy a ticket. Simple.
Getting into the spirit, I offer the following, free of charge, to the marketers at LA Opera.
Wozzeck — Pronounced Vots-eck, more or less!
Die Walküre — From the composer of “What’s Opera, Doc?” only longer!
Götterdämmerung — The fat lady sings at the end!
Tristan und Isolde — The fat lady sings at the end!
The Turn of the Screw — Sounds like porn, and it kind of is!
Die Soldaten — From the composer of Photoptosis!
Rigoletto — We have a hunch you’ll like this one!
La Boheme — Based on Rent!
The Marriage of Figaro — Features a chick dressed as a man!
Giulio Cesare — A bunch of dudes singing like chicks!
Cosi fan tutte — Can you say Swingers?!
Porgy and Bess — From the composer of the United Airlines commercial!
Carmen — Smokes cigarettes and kills men, but you can dance to it!
La Traviata — Consumption never sounded so good!
Salome — Like David Lynch on steroids!
The Breasts of Tiresias — An entire opera about boobs!
You’ve stolen all my best marketing slogans!!!
L.A. Opera will be calling you soon, offering you a new job! I have dibs on being your assistant.
Rigoletto — We have such a hunch you’ll come back, it’s already in the bag.
Dialogue of the Carmelites — Candied apples at the cutting edge.
La Boheme — Flower children soak fat cats and get free love.
The Barber of Seville — Like “The Rabbit of Seville” only longer
From the House of the Dead — Little known prequel to “Dawn of the Dead”
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk — One ticket buys you admission and a free vowel
Antony and Cleopatra — Come see if it still sucks
Nixon in China — Yup, that’s pretty much the whole story
Salome — Come opening night and get a souvenir platter
But the big question is “Will this sales job really put the butts in the seats?” How about addressing opera ticket prices which have kept this butt out of many seats – rather put the money into visiting world-class orchestras, soloists, and live theater unless it is a really fabulous opera presentation…maybe once in 3 years…I would love to support opera but it loses a lot sitting up in the nose-bleed section.
Rosemary, we hear you. Tickets are expensive because the art is so expensive to produce, but we are working on ways to offer more affordable options. We do post special offers on our Facebook page and via email. You can sign up for our e-newsletters on our website.
Diane, I’m 32.
Last year, in 2009-2010, I subscribed to the full season, 2 tickets, and each show I brought a different friend, and attended the ARIA parties when available.
All of my friends had
1. Never attended an opera before,
2. When invited, were suprisingly interested, and accepted my invitation (I tend to expect a “opera, how boring!” reaction. This WASN’T their reaction.), and
3. When they attended, they enjoyed it!
Will my newly initiated friends come back on their own? Maybe. They’re a heck of a lot more likely now than they were before!
On a side note, I’d say that the reason that they were interested in attending–the allure–seemed to be in the glamour and exoticism of the tradition of opera. Dressing up; high ticket prices; association with high art and wealthy patrons; etc.
But my point is: you need more patrons who will invite their friends (Maybe even buy tickets for them).
The ARIA “young professionals” program is an *EXCELLENT* way to encourage this social networking.
However, it seems as though the ARIA program is rather neglected and “out of the loop” by LA Opera’s sales & marketing team.
1. Over the last 8 months, I received at least 4-5 phone calls from the LA Opera subscription sales team, but each time, when I asked about it, (they should have told ME!), none of the reps or managers knew anything about ARIA dates or the ARIA subscription package. (I did not renew my subscription, as a result).
2. The ARIA Facebook page is no longer being maintained. There’s no link from LA Opera’s FB page to ARIA’s page. I posted several inquiries about the upcoming season (see ‘discussions’) on both FB pages and received no response.
3. There’s no online process for buying an ARIA season package.
4. There doesn’t appear to be any marketing effort to promote the ARIA events or season package. I just noticed the link on LA Opera’s website today, only 5 weeks prior to the first event. (!)
I love opera, and I’m really pulling for LA Opera to “fill those seats” and do well. But it seems from my perspective that there are some missed opportunities, and that’s distressing to me. Your thoughts?
From Los Angeles Opera. producers of “The Fly”….
Love this post. Since you’re willing to help out (for free) you’re hired!
If you want more you’re going to have to show me the money!
The Rake’s Progress — Young guy parties hard and dabbles in alternative lifestyle — sung in English!!!
@Jonathan, I agree with you 100%! We are revamping the Marketing/PR department (hence the new site) and implementing changes, but still have a long way to go. Thank you for these great suggestions – it always helps to hear ideas from those outside the office.
Thank you, also, for introducing friends of yours to the opera. Most opera fans say that they were introduced to opera by a friend or family member, in fact, it’s the number one way people find us. We really appreciate your support!
I will be at the opening night ARIA party – I hope we can chat more then.
Thanks Diane! I’d love to chat–see you at the opening night ARIA party!
We are revamping the Marketing/PR department (hence the new site)
Finally! The previous laopera.com site always had such a tentative, even makeshift, quality about it. However, your webmaster(s) seems to have a peculiar affinity for lime-green color, assuming (or certainly if) he or she also was responsible for the older internet site. Using a different hue would “pop” in a better way and would be my only major suggestion.
I’m still astonished that Los Angeles didn’t even have an opera company until not all that long ago, or the 1980s. I recall years when even places like Houston or Kansas City had the type of performing-arts organization that was a no-show in LA. That undoubtedly is a major reason the “cultural wasteland” title had been bestowed upon the city, starting from quite a long time ago. A rather ridiculous and pathetic situation, and quite puzzling too.
Even today, in 2011, there’s still a void when it comes to another form of the arts, referring to the absence of a well-anchored major local dance company affiliated with either the city or the Music Center.
Beyond that, it’s too bad the economy took a stumble before the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion could be revamped and turned into a setting more fitting for grand opera. I recall a music critic from the East Coast visiting California not too many years ago and observing that the auditorium where he watched the San Francisco Opera perform was more impressive than the one he visited in Los Angeles. Even on television, I notice a modest and tired quality about the Pavilion that’s evident during KCET’s “Holiday Celebration” show. So it would be nice if a makeover occurs sometime before the next 50 to100 years.
Glad you like the site. We have more improvements coming – with a limited staff, we are implementing changes in phases.
The green was the primary color used in our print materials this year and so, for consistency, was picked up online. I agree – it does look better in print than online – as is often the case with colors. Funny though, one reason we picked the color (in December) was because it wasn’t being used by other companies in LA and it would stand out. Ironically, we are now seeing it used by numerous other companies – it’s all over the place.
I’m happy to tell you that the renovation plans for the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion have not been abandoned, just postponed. Fingers crossed for an economic recovery – for many reasons!
As part of your revamping of the Marketing/PR dept. can you adopt a more consistent approach/outreach effort to the blogging community? Although I live in San Francisco, I frequent LA Opera and have written often about the company- but haven’t received any information from your team in the past two years.
PS. this season’s schedule is really unattractive for the out-of-town visitor.
You bet! We created a new position and recently hired a Communications Manager who will be leading our online efforts including social media, bloggers, etc. We will be – and keep – in touch.
As a company, we have been struggling with how to balance our need to attract out-of-town buyers with serving/attracting more local buyers. We are beginning a major market research project to better discern the issues, but I’d love to hear your specific thoughts. You can email me if you prefer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just to clarify- my comment about the schedule wasn’t meant to be about the quality of LAO’s offerings (I think it’s going to be a strong season and the casting is terrific), but refers to being unable to see Romeo and Juliette and Boheme without another opera on the schedule during their runs- I like doubling up, which is harder to do this year.
Thanks Diane- I’ll send you my email address.
Adding to what John says – two weekend performances of Albert Herring are exactly opposite the excellent double bill at Long Beach Opera. I can’t come down for a weekend and see the productions at both companies. Headtable!
I need to tell Long Beach Opera the same thing. I realize that both companies are bounded by venue availability but it is apparent that there is no attempt to coordinate.
What I want more than anything from LA Opera: the ability to choose my own seats on line. You’re using Tessitura; there is a choose-your-own-seats module; it would reduce my frustration enormously because I hate picking up the phone to buy seats.
Regarding SF Opera’s house: it is badly antiquated, with terrible storage space, limited in-house rehearsal space, and many other issues. The Chandler may not look as good (or sound as good!) but perhaps there are better facilities.
You’re in luck. The Tessitura module you are referring to is called T-New. We purchased it and are installing/integrating into our system now. We should have it up and running in a month – maybe earlier. It will allow customers to select seats and will make the whole purchasing process much, much easier.
That is great news! Please let me kiss the feet of the responsible parties – or you can simply convey my deepest thanks.
@ Lisa – You’re welcome (no feet kissing required). Good point about Long Beach Opera too.
The green was the primary color used in our print materials this year and so, for consistency, was picked up online. I agree – it does look better in print than online – as is often the case with colors….. Ironically, we are now seeing it used by numerous other companies – it’s all over the place.
Diane, thank you for taking the time to reply to the comments here.
As for what you’re describing, I hope that doesn’t end up a variation of what happened back in the 1970s—probably before the time you were born or certainly when you were too young to notice such things. I’m referring to when avocado green became all the rage and was the color of choice for household appliances. I shudder at the memory.
I’m happy to tell you that the renovation plans for the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion have not been abandoned, just postponed.
I don’t want to leave you with the notion that your workplace is an anachronism or major letdown, because it generally isn’t. I’ve even read that Sol Hurok, a well-known New York-based impresario around the time when the Music Center was built, considered the Pavilion an ideal model for theaters or auditoriums. But he probably was judging it based on the whole, on things like its non-self-conscious heavy use of marble walls and country-club chandeliers instead of some of its technical inadequacies.
The director of the San Francisco Opera in the 1960s, Kurt Adler, chastised the planners of the Pavilion for having ignored all his recommendations on how its design could be altered to accommodate opera. But the Music Center’s tenants at that time didn’t extend much beyond the Philharmonic and an organization known as the “Civic Light Opera” (with its Broadway-type musicals). Truly the bad old days.
Regarding SF Opera’s house: it is badly antiquated, with terrible storage space, limited in-house rehearsal space, and many other issues.
The huge budget — and all the technical wizardry thereof — that went into the construction of the Metropolitan Opera House back in the 1960s pretty much made the other homes for opera throughout America and the world seem quaint and ill-equipped. The very fact that place in New York City has a main stage surrounded by 3 other stages of equal size, in which any one of those stages can be moved in or out in place of the others, speaks volumes.
“I’m happy to tell you that the renovation plans for the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion have not been abandoned, just postponed.”
I hope they’ll renovate the balcony! Those are the only tickets we can afford, and the balcony is cramped, stuffy and hot. Not an enjoyable experience.
Reblogged this on Classical Life and commented:
From 2011. I don’t know what I had for breakfast that day.
No “Powder Her Face”?