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Speaking of that Dallas Opera Simulcast …

by Jerome Weeks 17 Sep 2010 11:28 AM

… maybe it should be held in the Ballpark at Arlington and not in the Arts District at all. Why? Because it turns out that location is key to such a simulcast’s success for the opera company. And the Annette Strauss Square may not fit the bill.


… maybe it should be held in the Ballpark at Arlington and not in the Arts District at all.

Quite a few opera companies have tried them in the hopes of increasing revenue and broadening their audience. And yes, I know, in our case, putting on a simulcast at the Annette Strauss Square is one of those steps that (one hopes) may actually kick some festive life into our shiny collection of architectural trophies.

From the Dallas Opera’s press release:

“The Opening Night simulcast of Don Giovanni is a perfect expression of everything the AT&T Performing Arts Center was intended to be, from sparking new collaborations among arts groups, to making the performing arts more accessible to new audiences, to creating vibrant outdoor spaces in the Dallas Arts District,” says ATTPAC Interim CEO Doug Curtis.

But according to the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Opera may be the only company that’s actually made a (small) profit from its simulcast.

Location, it seems, is key.

Such events at other operas often take place in open-air plazas where the crowd can come and go. By using the ballpark [AT&T Park, home of the Giants], the San Francisco Opera is able to collect contact information from first-time opera-goers who register for the free event to get early admission. . . .

While such events raise an opera house’s profile, many opera companies have found it difficult to capture patron information for follow-up marketing—and to monetize the events.

At least one other opera company has followed the San Francisco Opera in holding ballpark simulcasts. In 2008, the Washington National Opera moved its simulcast from the National Mall to the brand new Nationals Park—home of the Washington Nationals—in an effort to get people to sign up and secure better customer-tracking data.

“Going to the ballpark is fabulous because people register,” says JoAnn LaBrecque-French, the Washington National Opera’s marketing and communications director.

One interesting way, though, that the Dallas Opera may have cut some significant costs: Its simulcast is being done in collaboration with WFAA-TV, Channel 8.  In San Francisco — after being frustrated by its inability to gain information about its audience at its original Civic Center “Plazacast” — the San Francisco Opera decided to move the show to the ballpark. It “poured $4 million from donors into an in-house video-production and editing studio, along with camera and computer equipment needed to produce each simulcast, which saves money on equipment rentals and fees for outside producers and camera operators.”

  • nmlhats

    The Dallas Opera is using this contact-info model to a certain extent. There are some number of seats (chairs) that one can reserve in advance for the simulcast. In order to reserve them, you have to give up your contact info and check a box that says you agree to receive future communication from them.