An exciting new project for cultural institution managers has been developed which seeks to process and analyse data on the most performed composers and their pieces over a given period of time. As part of Coding da Vinci, a hackathon – a contest for software developers – that recently took place at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, organised by Wikimedia Germany and the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek [German Digital Library], involving several German cultural institutions and which aims to facilitate the digitalisation of the cultural sector; data scientist Carole Waihai and Opera Co-Pro’s very own Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Anna Costalonga, presented their project called ‘Musik Lovers’. Using the Konzerthaus Berlin’s data which was the only classical music institution that happened to be involved with Coding da Vinci, they charted concert information for the venue already set for 2018 and going as far back as 2008 concerning all pieces performed and their composers.
In their so called ‘Hitparade’ one might not be too surprised to find that Mozart, Beethoven and J S Bach are the three most performed composers of the past ten years and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is the most performed piece over that same period. Naturally these results only reflect the Konzerthaus’s programming which is not an opera venue. Of greater interest is the possibility of replicating this process with other venues and then comparing how pieces and composers fare across several institutions in different markets or even reflect a possible venue bias. Says Ms. Costalonga ‘This sort of data analysis is more commonly carried out in other business sectors to figure out end-user trends and provide an interactive graphic visualisation of sales reports but it has yet to be done in classical music management. This method could open up new and fascinating research perspectives for musicologists and classical music managers alike.’
There is of course a famous yearly study done by the website, Bachtrack, which only gives us an annual, global view of all composers, pieces and performers rather than – as one might say in the jargon – a more ‘granulated view’ paired down by institution and over a longer period of time. The project already caught the attention of the Senator for Culture of the Land of Berlin, Klaus Lederer, whose purview includes three opera houses and a myriad of classical music venues like the Philharmonie in addition to the Konzerthaus. The team at Opera Co-Pro take pride in our CTO and her partner’s research project and hope it will encourage opera managers, music directors and venue directors to come forward and involve their respective institutions.
As they are in most European countries, the public subsidies provided by central, regional and local governments have been essential in preserving the precarious life and balance of opera in Spain.
Various models of management have been pursued by opera theatres throughout Spain, and the financial crisis of 2008 has impacted each of them to varying degrees.
Companies have resolved to explore new practices to surmount economic difficulty and evolve the public’s perception of opera as an elitist and costly spectacle. Some actions taken by lyric managers have been to organize free outdoor shows and share online performances. Many have also adapted financially by co-producing with other theatres and offering new ranges of subscriptions.
A primary concern for classical music venues today is to revitalize and expand their audiences, and the opera houses of Spain are no exception. Opera and zarzuela educational programs in collaboration with schools and universities are growing and increasingly being promoted by many larger companies, and subscriptions are becoming more flexible as their “younger audiences” become older.
Meanwhile, producers are looking for other sources of income to compensate for their reduction in public subsidies, though this has proven to be difficult within the current framework of economic circumstances. Opera XXI, the association representing opera and zarzuela in Spain, has repeatedly indicated that the 21% VAT for cultural activities and the absence of a genuine patronage law has prevented the performing arts sector from receiving private funding. In this context however, Teatro Real’s financial model may surprise. Having turned to private donors several years before the financial crisis, Teatro Real still continues to develop new ways of obtaining sponsorship with only 30% of their resources now coming from public contributions. (See our previous piece on European opera house financing – Ed)
In essence, Spanish opera houses have had to cope with great cutbacks while maintaining a high-quality operatic life and involving their audiences who continue to enjoy opera and zarzuela throughout Spain.
—María Elena Santaella Morales
The author is a PhD candidate in musicology at IReMus (Institut de recherche en Musicologie) of the Université Paris-Sorbonne.
India might not sound like the most obvious market for western classical opera but we at Opera Co-Pro were surprised to find out that in Mumbai there is an opera house that dates from the British Raj and was refurbished only last year! The Royal Opera House Mumbai re-opened its doors in October 2016 after being shut for over twenty years. It was inaugurated in 1911 by King George V. Architecturally it is based on the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and the similarities are clear to see on its facade. It is currently in the hands of the royal family of Gondal, one of the wealthiest royal families in India. The word ‘Royal’ in its name is still pertinent and not simply a leftover from colonial times.
During the early period of its current ownership it spent several decades as a cinema and then fell into disrepair with even trees growing out of the façade. In 2010 restoration began and brought the opera house up to modern standards. The 574 seat theatre has now been open for just over a year. To celebrate its re-opening, Mumbai-born British soprano Patricia Rozario sang to a full house. The Royal Opera House Mumbai is the venue for anyone wishing to stage western opera in India and would likely benefit from co-production partners to assist with this.
Contact us here to co-produce or sell your productions in Mumbai!
French opera website Revopera has recently published a survey on the financing of 14 leading European opera companies. According to 2015 figures collated from various annual reports and press releases, coming top in Europe with the largest income is the Opéra National de Paris which includes the two opera houses – Garnier and Bastille – at just over €200 million followed by the Royal Opera House in London with just under €160 million and La Scala in Milan with €124 million. Within this, the Royal Opera House has the largest share of its budget emanating from non-subsidy, i.e. self-funded which includes all ticket receipts, philanthropic and private donations, as well as revenue from other sources such as programme sales, visitor tours, digital cinema; that makes up 79% of its income.
However in terms of philanthropy alone, the Teatro Real in Madrid has the largest share of its income from such sources—as much as 24%. The share of its income that is self-funded has almost doubled in 5 years from 40% up to 70%. Naturally this has also come about as a consequence of the economic crisis of 2008 which has seen a reduction in government subsidy for many opera houses and has enabled philanthropic contributions to increase as a share of income to an average of around 9%. This is often a lot smaller in Germany and the Benelux countries where opera companies not only continue to receive large amounts of subsidy but on average still offer among the cheapest tickets.
Getting excited about your own co-production? Here are three fundamental points to consider: planning, scheduling and the co-production agreement.
Planning How many months in advance do you plan your season and cast your artists? It’s essential to ensure that a partner’s management team plans ahead at a similar time so as to match your own planning requirements. In addition Production Managers should work alongside each other very closely so as to prevent any overlap which could result in delays from the workshops in producing sets, costumes and props.
Scheduling Discuss with your partner company(-ies) suitable dates to arrange concept meetings and agree on dates for workshops to release costumes and sets. Then times and locations need to be set for rehearsals in combination with all partners. Where are rehearsals taking place? What happens when the production moves to a partner company? Mind that you allow sufficient time between the end date of the co-production at one partner and the start date at another to give you enough time to transport and assemble the sets.
Finally it’s useful to consider the content of the co-production agreement. State clearly which is the Lead Production Company; who forms the artistic and creative team and what vision they shall provide, as well as which partner will own the copyright of the production. How should costs be shared among the partners; which company is responsible for transport, insurance and storage of sets, costumes and props? Then consider how certain tasks might be divided, namely who is responsible for making recordings or videos and sur-titles? One should specify what ensemble(s) is/are involved? Which soloists, chorus(es), ballet or extras are needed and how many.
It’s now been over two weeks since the launch of Opera Co-Pro and its platform and we are delighted to announce that it has been a resounding success! So far more than 120 opera companies of various sizes and located as far apart as China, the US and Europe have registered or are in the process of doing so. Over 450 users have visited the site and left valuable feedback.
It all began with our successful launch at the 1901 Arts Club in London at the end of September where much of the UK’s opera world was in attendance. Before an aria recital given by soprano Magda Di Giacomo accompanied by pianist Matthieu Esnult, Opera Co-Pro founder and CEO, Ambra Sorrentino, gave an impassioned presentation and answered questions from the floor.
With a spring in our step from our launch event we seamlessly followed through with our attendance at Opera Europa’s Opera Pilgrimage conference in Parma, Italy last week. So many opera managers from all over Europe were eager to meet us and find out more about our services. Our Marketing Manager, Vincenzo Brugaletta, ran many presentations for all those interested in finding out more. As a result over 75% of those companies in attendance expressed their wish to get involved with us. In only its first 14 days, Opera Co-Pro has already brokered two co-production contracts.
We are now thrilled to be launching the Opera Co-Pro blog. You will find here all the latest information and data regarding opera management. To complement our platform the blog will aim to bring you the latest news, trends and statistics regarding opera management in addition to publishing interviews with those involved with the dissemination of opera worldwide. We hope that you enjoy reading our blog and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us—we’d love to hear from you!