Weekly Update


Mounting expenses, misconceptions and the loss of a major venue are taking their toll. Philip Pearce covers a recent Monterey County Theatre Alliance gathering on our At Large page. Click HERE.


Elsa Con of Magic Circle Theatre, one afflicted company, is profiled by Susan Meister on our PAP page. Click HERE.


The much celebrated landmark 1972 “description” of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven has been turned into a comic opera “of sorts” by Ojai Festival music director Jeremy Denk and 2005 Pulitzer-winning composer Steven Stucky. You can see it this weekend, Thursday through Sunday, in Ojai, a short five hour drive from Monterey. http://www.ojaifestival.org/category/the-classical-style/


So said company boss Peter Gelb during an interview with Tom Service on BBC Radio 3. Gelb (pictured) predicted a bankruptcy in “two or three years” if the Peter Gelb 2.jpgcompany does not cut its wages. His proposal includes reducing 16 percent of its $200 million labor costs by changing work rules for the chorus and orchestra. The unions have threatened to strike over the cuts, which are being debated now before current contracts expire at the end of July. Gelb told Service, “I’m trying to address this problem a few steps before the edge of the precipice instead of waiting until we are actually on the precipice.”
Gelb said the Met’s shrinking audience was partly to blame. “The box office has not increased—it’s been flat—which represents a shrinking playing field for opera. It’s not a secret in the US that the frequency of opera-going is going down. We are getting a newer audience, a younger audience, but there aren’t enough new audience members to replace the old audience members who are dying off.”

Gelb said he no longer thought the company’s live cinema broadcasts were encouraging people to stay away from real opera houses, and cited studies which showed local screenings were allowing older opera fans not to miss out. “At a cinema in America showing opera, 75% of them [the audience] are over 65, and 30% of them are over 75.” He said the HD broadcasts had been a huge hit globally, with Germany the Met’s second biggest audience, selling 30,000 to 35,000 tickets for a single Saturday performance.

Gelb complained about the lack of opera and arts education in schools in the US and elsewhere. “Children are brought up to be tech wizards and to have the attention spans of mice. How do you educate new audiences to like opera which takes three or four hours and is in foreign languages?”

His lament is all too common in America. “As long as governments are not interested in arts education, I think we are in a Catch-22 situation.”


We profiled the home-grown composer and filmmaker as our Performing JankoArts People person on April 15. Since then, Xandy set up a Kickstarter plan to raise $50,000 of seed money pursuant to making a movie of Joan Anderson’s popular novels that he wrote into a screenplay titled A Year by the Sea. The film is budgeted at $5 million. The Kickstarter approach, largely using social media, needed to meet its goal in one month. As it has turned out—or rather is turning out—that goal was exceeded in just two weeks, with two more weeks to keep it growing. Congrats Xandy! http://www.yearbythesea.com/


Wies Norberg’s weekly updated “Wies Notes” covers music in area clubs and restaurants. We’ve added a link to her blog on our Links of Interest page. Click HERE. On our Theater Reviews page, Philip Pearce covers PacRep’s Evie’s Waltz and The Western Stage’s Woodie Guthrie’s American Song. Click HERE. And on our Dance Reviews page you’ll find my coverage of Smuin Ballet’s XXCentric from last Saturday. Click HERE.

Scott MacClelland, editor