My last post on San Francisco Opera's dubious cost-cutting methods and priorities certainly seems to have gotten some attention over at the quonset hut in the Hayes Valley alley. I wish I could tell if those readers were the ill-treated admin staff or their abusers, but I really have no idea. The post has generated one interesting and illuminating comment and I hope there are more to come. The commenter makes it plain we will be seeing the results of other cuts manifest on the stage this coming season. Coupled with the previously reported cuts in rehearsal times, all of this creates a vision in my mind of a season where highly-paid Met stars will jet in, do a couple of quick rehearsals of roles they can sing in their sleep, and then throw it all up there on the stage and hope the seams don't show too much.
In an email, a friend pointed out these kinds of cuts are taking place in every sector, which is obviously true. He also defended SFO's forays into new media as a pro-active move in the never-ending quest to expand the audience. Furthermore, the money was spent or committed before the economic meltdown, all of which is true. I can see the validity of this viewpoint. I'm just not impressed with the execution and its implications.
True or not, it doesn't change my opinion that a four-fold increase in media spending in one year, including spending on poorly thought-out programs, is simply reckless. Nor does it change the upcoming season, a masterclass in provincial, safe programming done as cheaply as possible but sold as "grand and glorious opera." I for one, would rather have bold and provocative opera, presented with a guerilla mentality in response to the current economic reality, that would have people excitedly talking about what was happening here.
Next season is going to be what it is, and certainly there will be some highlights and great performances emerging from the scheduled dross. On the plus side, Nadja Michael's Salome, Voigt's Minnie, the star-studded Trovatore and Die Walkure are all things to anticipate. Be that as it may, the most exciting art form on the planet is certainly not being moved in a forward direction by the West Coast's company with the most resources at its disposal to do just that.