Opera in Topeka?

By Ralph Hipp

The latest issue of VANITY FAIR, which is just a fabulous magazine even with its150 ads and four articles! mentions Topeka in its article about the Metropolitan Opera in New York.   Nina Munk writes that satellite transmissions are beamed in high definition to 1,014 to movie theatres around the globe, and "for $20 a ticket, more or less, the greatest operas in the world are now accessible to everyone, from Mobile, Alabama, to Topeka, Kansas, from Osaka, Japan, to Lima, Peru."

Pretty good company and great ink!  Then the article details how their extremely hard working General Manager, Peter Gelb, is battling to bring opera to millions more fans, hopefully younger fans, despite the hugely prohibitive costs of producing operas.  And how many of us landlocked in the middle of the country still care?  Opera companies have already shut down in Baltimore and the state of Connecticut, and opera in Los Angeles is at death's door.  The Met's expenses according to Munk's article were $282 million in the last fiscal year.. while all the box office receipts and ticket sales for the movie theatres, plus all the media only brought in $110 million of that.

Here at home, TOSCA, the Topeka Opera Society's Concert Association, strives to bring opera to us, and help us appreciate it.  Their programs are well produced and well worth our time.  Is all their effort, combined with a chance to see the Met (and I am assuming from the VF article, that would be inside one of the Hollywood Theatre studios) enough exposure to keep opera alive?  We have to ask if opera is a dying art form that will eventually give way to most of us watching other videos on our high-def TVs or cell phones, instead of "Aida" or "Turandot" sat-cast from the Metropolitan stage to our local movie theatre.  

What are your thoughts on opera?  Although I have never seen a live opera performance, I used to listen to Milton Cross on Saturday afternoons on the radio.  The Met performances from now, and from years gone by, are also beamed out to the world on Sirius Satellite Radio 24/7 for modern-day die hard fans.  I think I would love to see a production, any production at the Met.  But could someone go with me to explain what the heck's going on?   I look foward to reading your thoughts!   Ralph

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