Saving Up For A Really Good Ring

Putting on a production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle is the operatic equivalent of staging four major Broadway musicals and four symphony orchestra concerts simultaneously. That kind of excess costs money, and if you aren’t the Metropolitan Opera (and these days, who is?) you’d better have a plan for serious fundraising. In Australia, the State Opera of Adelaide is putting the finishing touches on an innovative campaign to bring a Ring Cycle there in 2004. Rather than merely soliciting donations from opera lovers, organizers offered donors the chance to ‘sponsor’ a specific role in the opera, a member of the creative team, or even the conductor.

Making Magic – And Making A Living

“Once supported by kings, queens, vaudeville and Ed Sullivan, magicians have turned to corporate America. The trade show or the convention floor has taken the place of the old variety theaters and variety arts shows. Where else can magicians pick up a regular paycheck? Of course, the weird thing is, nobody’s ever coming there because they want to see you. You’re only there because some events planner booked you. That’s why Magical Nights can pay top-notch magicians a pittance.”

Happy Ending After All in Colorado

Less than a week after the beleaguered Colorado Springs Symphony dissolved itself in bankruptcy court, the musicians of the old CSSO joined with their old music director and a new board leadership of their choosing to form the new Colorado Springs Philharmonic. The executive director of the Phil will be Susan Greene, who had been dismissed from the same position at the CSSO a year ago, sparking angry questions from the musicians.

Baltimore Symphony Facing Money Woes

“Like a persistent virus, the economic downturn continues to infect musical organizations across the country. No immediate cure is in sight… The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s projected deficit for the current fiscal year has gone from $515,000, estimated last November, to $806,000 as of this month. Underlining the troubling financial picture is the fact that BSO management has unexpectedly opened up negotiations with the musicians, even though their contract, approved three years ago, doesn’t expire until 2005. Neither side will provide details of these discussions, but it’s clear that the orchestra is looking into every option, including possible financial concessions from the players, to stop the flow of red ink.”

Cleveland Losing Three Principal Players

Major orchestras don’t lose their principal musicians very often. After all, these are the plum jobs of the music industry, high-salaried and high-profile. But this year, the Cleveland Orchestra will lose no fewer than three of its principal players, and the scramble for their jobs is on. Two of the three principals are retiring, and the other, who had moved up from second chair, is returning to his old position after not being tenured at the principal position.

Iraq: A Looming Archaeological Crisis

“Virtually all of Iraq is an archaeological site. Some 10,000 sites have been identified in Iraq, and many more, perhaps half a million, await discovery. They range from the size of a small city to the size of your backyard. Each has its own stories, each is unique, each is irreplaceable, each is crucial. The sum of those stories is a fundamental part of who we are today. Our archaeological heritage is a nonrenewable resource, and when part of it is destroyed, that part of us is lost forever. The political turmoil of the last decade in Iraq has turned its archaeological emergencies into catastrophes.”

CBS Extends Tony Broadcast

CBS has decided to expand its broadcast of this year’s Tony Awards to three hours. “For the last five years, the Tonys were shown for two hours on CBS, with an initial hour on PBS, which usually featured the design awards as well as awards for director of best play and best musical.” This year PBS was unable to handle the broadcast and some feared that the first hour wouldn’t be televised.

The West End – For Better And Worse

London’s West End theatres offer the kind of dramatic range and diversity that Broadway can only dream of. The West End generates more than $2 billion of economic impact each year. About 12 million people attend West End productions every year, and there was a 3.2% rise in attendance last year – a remarkable statistic considering the current depressed states of the economy and tourism.” Still, there are some problems, not the least of which is the shabby condition of West End theatres.

New York’s Bid For The Movie Big Time

New York is building a $150 million 15-acre movie studio complex in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “Steiner Studios, named for the shopping center tycoons who are funding the mega-project out of their own pockets, promises to be in operation next year. Their hope is to regenerate a Gotham entertainment business that peaked back in 1998—when 221 films were shot in the city (compared with 180 last year) and the plans for the Brooklyn studio first emerged. But now, while producers, crews, and city officials agree that New York’s film and TV infrastructure seriously needs a face-lift, there are doubts about whether our entertainment sector—already struggling with the flight of productions to cheaper locales—can sustain such an ambitious venture.”

Canadian Dramas Disappearing From TV

A new report says that since the Canadian government loosened requirements for Canadian content on TV, “the number of hours devoted to English-language, Canadian-made dramas during peak hours has steadily dropped. Programming dollars have been diverted to non-drama programming, and Canadian dramas have been loaded into less important time periods and away from crucial November sweeps.” This is a problem because “television drama is the most powerful cultural medium a nation has to reflect history, character and values. Our report clearly demonstrates that the current Canadian broadcasting system has all but abandoned this reflection.”