The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Met just canceled its entire fall opera season. Can local groups be far behind? | June 3, 2020

PLEASE HELP THE EAR. IF YOU LIKE A CERTAIN BLOG POST, SPREAD THE WORD. FORWARD A LINK TO IT OR, SHARE IT or TAG IT (not just “Like” it) ON FACEBOOK. Performers can use the extra exposure to draw potential audience members to an event. And you might even attract new readers and subscribers to the blog.

By Jacob Stockinger

The question has weighed on The Ear ever since local groups started announcing their new concert seasons.

Will audiences – especially older and more vulnerable ones — be ready to risk venturing into crowds of 500, 1,000 or 2,000 people without an effective treatment or vaccine for global pandemic of the coronavirus (below) and the growing number of deaths from COVID-19?

Now such suspicions have been supported or even confirmed by news that the world-famous Metropolitan Opera (below), at Lincoln Center in New York City, has just canceled all of its live fall productions.

It cited concerns about the safety of both the public and the performers. And its reasoning makes sense — even though it is estimated that the Met will lose up to $100 million. It is hard or impossible in concert halls and on stages (below is a photo of the Met’s stage) to use masks and maintain social distancing.

All in all, it sounds all too familiar, similar to the reasons given for cancellations this past winter and spring, and even this summer.

Here’s a link about the Met cancellation, with lots of details and quotes, in The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/01/arts/music/metropolitan-opera-cancels-season-virus.html

Locally, it seemed like the show might go on when many groups – despite the public health crisis growing worse — went ahead and started announcing their fall seasons or even an event this summer, as in the case of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s Concerts on the Square, which were postponed by a month.

After all, the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson), the Madison Opera, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Wisconsin Union Theater, the Middleton Community Orchestra and the Madison Bach Musicians have all announced new seasons — as did the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. (You can hear about the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s new “Ode to Joy” season in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

The UW-Madison – the biggest presenter of live concerts in the Madison area with some 300 events a year – has wisely not yet announced its concert season, let alone how it will hold lessons and classes.

The Ear suspects that more cancellations are in the making, especially when it comes to mass gatherings such as concerts, movies, plays and sports events.

Indeed, it seems like many of the groups even took possible cancellations into consideration when it came to planning programs; cutting back on expenses and staffing; and using local or regional guest artists, who might be less expensive and less difficult to cancel, rather than long-distance imported ones.

Even if a vaccine is perfected by Jan. 1, it will take a while to produce enough of it, then to administer it and then to have it take effect.

But perhaps those suspicions and speculations are overly cautious or too pessimistic.

What do you think will happen to the fall concert season?

Will going online and streaming new or past concerts once again be a substitution?

Has the pandemic changed your own habits — perhaps waiting to purchase single tickets rather than renew a season subscription? Or your plans for the fall season, perhaps even the entire season?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music
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5 Comments »

  1. First, a big thanks to you, Jake, for continuing your posts. In regard to subscriptions (you may,or maybe not, want to— publish this), I chose to donate the unused funds from last year to presenters when performances had to be canceled. And for next year plan to subscribe as usual, with the same outcome if necessary (i.e. donate to the organization*). * Having been involved behind the scenes of quite a few arts organizations, I’m aware that ongoing costs continue. And it’s important* for them *to project and communicate their plans. Eventually (and probably slowly) we will see an end to all of this, hopefully with every group surviving.

    Harriet Statz

    On Wed, Jun 3, 2020 at 12:02 AM The Well-Tempered Ear wrote:

    > welltemperedear posted: “PLEASE HELP THE EAR. IF YOU LIKE A CERTAIN BLOG > POST, SPREAD THE WORD. FORWARD A LINK TO IT OR, SHARE IT or TAG IT (not > just “Like” it) ON FACEBOOK. Performers can use the extra exposure to draw > potential audience members to an event. And you might even a” >

    Comment by hjtstatz — June 3, 2020 @ 11:14 am

  2. Thank you for all of these updates! I have a suggestion, if you’re open to one.

    In my email summaries, it always lists the “Please help the ear….” I’d click through to read the message far more often if that day’s topic were in that space. I’m no techie, so maybe that’s too difficult. Just a thought.

    Thanks again.

    Kris.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Kris Rasmussen kjrasmussen@me.com 608-576-8770

    “Many small brooks make the river strong.” Danish Proverb

    >

    Comment by kjrasmussenwi — June 3, 2020 @ 10:06 am

  3. My husband and I have paid for season tickets to Opera, Chamber, Orchestra, Broadway , Forward Theater as usual even though we are pessimistic ( or realistic) about normal life recurring. If performances are cancelled we will request refunds, and then increase our donations through IRA accounts-in other words, pre- tax money. I have suggested this strategy to others. We must support the Arts. Jane Pizer

    On Wed, Jun 3, 2020, 12:01 AM The Well-Tempered Ear wrote:

    > welltemperedear posted: “PLEASE HELP THE EAR. IF YOU LIKE A CERTAIN BLOG > POST, SPREAD THE WORD. FORWARD A LINK TO IT OR, SHARE IT or TAG IT (not > just “Like” it) ON FACEBOOK. Performers can use the extra exposure to draw > potential audience members to an event. And you might even a” >

    Comment by Jane Pizer — June 3, 2020 @ 8:48 am

  4. I think that arts orgs are wise to announce their seasons – as most did – with the caveat that things could change.We all need a little HOPE that possibly things could return to normal, even as we all know that probably won’t happen. Personally? I would attend a live concert in the fall, wearing my mask, but I’m probably in the minority. I’m glad I don’t have to make these decisions – it’s a total crap-shoot.

    Comment by Kathleen H Otterson — June 3, 2020 @ 8:40 am

  5. Sad. The future is going to require some really creative thinking, innovation.

    Comment by Mary Gordon — June 3, 2020 @ 8:12 am


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