To Subscribe or Not to Subscribe?

Telemarketing Sales Calls…Oh My!

As I continue to field a slew of these sorts of calls from all the big gun Bay Area performing arts companies (ie: San Francisco Opera, SF Ballet, and more), I am reminded how much my own entertainment purchasing habits have changed (not to mention that of the entire market), and how little interest I have in committing to a subscription for any of their seasons. No kidding (I swear on my own grave), I just got a call from the SFO about a subscription for the upcoming season, as I edited this post. Could I be any more topical!?

Being a graphic designer, and even myself having worked and working on some past and future SFO campaigns, I feel for the telemarketers…but in the heat of the moment it doesn’t make the disruption much easier to swallow.

telemarketing woesI still laugh when I remember the technique my feisty grandmother touted for dealing with such calls. She said she would ask them to hold while she got the person they asked for (sometimes herself)…then she would set down the phone for a good long while, until they gave up.

Thanks for the Memories

Back in the mid-90s I enjoyed my one-and-only complete 12-part subscription to the SFO. This was back in the hey-day, when their seasons were really jam packed (unlike the current 9-part season). I also purchased a 6-part series one season shortly after. The year of my 12-part series, I enjoyed sharing in theme nights with operagoing friends, attending a french restaurant before Massenet, German before Strauss, and so on. But, that was sort of a one-season thrill, and lost momentum after 4 or 5 operas…perhaps a bit too tedious after a while.

I do remember feeling rather enslaved by the demands of the subscription schedule, having to go nearly every weekend in Nov./Dec., and wishing I also had time for other pleasures on-the-town (movies, dance, clubbin’). I’m an opera fanatic, but even in my experiencing of opera I like variety…sometimes cheaply from standing room or even a lucky student rush ticket, sometimes (rather expensively) from my favored Dress Circle section, sometimes from the stage (as a “Super”), and so on. I even enjoy attending the opera with different friends, to experiencing their varying perspectives and knowledge bases…some offering me new insight, some enjoying mine.

Subscription Guilt

I am certain that subscriptions are the life-blood of performing arts orgs, and so part of me has felt guilty for not being a more faithful patron, as I’ve begun reveling in single ticket livin’. But, now that I freelance from home, and have my own design business, that guilt is washing away…clearly a sign ‘o the times.

Surveys Galore

I realize that companies are having to reinvent the way they engage their audiences too (ie: with complete design your own series, etc., which didn’t exist on this scale 5+ years ago). Extensive marketing surveys have become so common, it seems one hits about every six months. It is clear that these companies are trying to get a pulse on their changing audiences in a fast evolving and tight time. I actually enjoy giving my two-cents, and always hope it makes some sort of ripple, however small.

One of these surveys was conducted shortly before David Gockley signed on as General Director of SFO. One of the questions was, which operas would you most like to see. Thankfully, two of the operas on that list have been presented since: Porgy & Bess, and Die Todt Stadt (at the end of Pamela Rosenberg’s tenure).

What motivates my interests? I most want to see the oft ignored chestnuts that haven’t been mounted here in eons (or ever), and that I have yet to see LIVE in any venue. I also, of course, will try not to miss a production if the singers are first-rate (and deserved) “stars”, or if the production has been critically acclaimed or promises to be provoking and well suited to the work itself.

My Updated Wish-Lists

My submitted wish-list remains largely intact. Unless noted, I have not seen these works, and eagerly await my first encounter with them.:

Die Frau ohne Schatten (seen twice)
Così fan tutte
(seen once)
Andrea Chenier
Maria Stuarda / Lucrezia Borgia / Roberto Devereux
La Gioconda
Capriccio
Dialogues des Carmélites
Les Troyens
wish list I Capuleti e I Montechi
Les Huguenots
I Puritani
Prodaná nevěsta (The Bartered Bride)
Martha
Lakme
Theodora
Falstaff
Die Schweigsame Frau
Mignon

Another question in the Gockley survey was which singers we’d most like to see. (Sadly, Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson was on that list.) Here is my newly crafted list.:

Pendatchanska

Pendatchanska

Soprano:
• Heidi Melton
• Anne Schwanewilms
• Mlada Khudoley
Alexandrina Pendatchanska

Mezzo/Countertenor:
• Andreas Scholl
Bernarda Fink
• Waltraud Meier
• Olga Borodina

Kaufmann

Kaufmann

Tenor:
Jonas Kaufmann (Gockley has publicly stated his admiration of this singer, so hopefully it won’t be long!)
• Peter Seiffert
• Lawrence Brownlee (fortunately I’m seeing him in Semiramide at Caramoor)

Bass/Baritone:
Réne Pape
• Vitaly Kowaljow
• Bryn Terfel

Thankfully, other likely wish-listees Nina Stemme, Ewa Podles, Stephanie Blythe, Juan Diego Florez, and Paolo Gavanelli are all appearing next season.

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