Will big-screen broadcasts change classical performances?

Posted on: November 9, 2010

In a front page article in Tuesday’s (11/9) New York Times, Daniel J. Wakin writes, “Opera houses, ballet companies, even the National Theater in London, are competing to lure audiences to live high-definition broadcasts in movie theaters … Now orchestras are jumping on the HD bandwagon, hoping that big screens can entice new fans to watch black-clad men and women playing musical instruments. … [The Los Angeles Philharmonic] venture joins recent forays by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra into playing live on screen. While the HD phenomenon has brought performances to millions of people who would not otherwise see them, it also raises major questions. How will it reshape the way shows are cast, directed and designed? Will the photogenic gain the upper hand? Will musicians start acting for the camera? …What effect will it have on attendance at local orchestras, theater companies and operas? … High-culture performances were common on television in past decades, although in recent years they have generally been relegated to public television and arts cable channels. … What is new here is that the showings are live, on a big screen and part of a collective experience. They are also one-time events that are presented as something special.”

Posted November 9, 2010