Online streaming: blessing or curse for the theatres?

Diffusion en ligne: bénédiction ou malédiction pour les théâtres?

Diffusion en ligne: bénédiction ou malédiction pour les théâtres?

The Philharmonie de Paris occurred in front of an empty room, may 27, 2020, for the capture of his concert.


June 1, 2020 12h22


Online streaming: blessing or curse for the theatres?

Rana Moussaoui

Agence France-Presse

PARIS — “Opera at home”, “drama couch”: in times of coronavirus, the theatres were given unprecedented access to their productions through online streaming, hoping all the while that it is only a parenthesis. But it is likely to be long.

The rooms in France and elsewhere in Europe are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel with dates of re-opening, but face the great challenge of bringing the spectators while respecting the separation physical.

Sitting comfortably in his living room, the public has been inundated for months by recordings of operas, ballets, concerts and the theatre, most of the time free of charge. Wants to return it to you in a room to gauge reduced, join queues, long waiting, wearing a mask, without intermission?

Last week, the Philharmonie de Paris showed what may look like a concert in the medium term: in camera and then broadcast online. In total, 320 000 views, a figure that is “exceptional for a concert of classical music on the internet”, according to the institution.

If the recordings are not a new thing, it is their number and their accessibility in the two months that are unpublished.

“Millions are watching”

More than 2.5 million people have viewed ten productions of the Opéra de Paris, the Comédie-Française has put online more than 80 performances, including archives, rare as Undine in Giraudoux (1974) with a very young Isabelle Adjani.

The Odeon Theatre has produced a series of pieces including, most recently, The King Lear of Shakespeare in the title role of Michel Piccoli, who passed away recently.

As a first observation, the streaming has been a success.

“Just for The School for wives (staged in 2018), one quarter of the views came from abroad. We even had a critique of the Guardian, “says the AFP Stéphane Braunschweig, director of the Odeon.

“Since then, it was sub-titled as Tartuffe and The Misanthrope. Seeing the interest from abroad, we said that it was necessary to develop the offer.”

“There are millions of people who watch us, according to Valery Gergiev, the famous conductor and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre of St Petersburg. Instead of 2000 spectators for a concert, we have had hundreds of thousands of tv viewers”, he said during an online conference organized by the annual festival Russian Seasons.

The English National Ballet (ENB) has seen the number of its followers on Facebook and YouTube to increase up to 70 000; and its director, Tamara Rojo wants “to believe that those who did not have the courage to go to the theater have seen may be their first ballet online,” and that”a new audience will emerge” at the reopening of the rooms.

The prestigious Metropolitan Opera of New York, quickly crushed by a deficit of 60 million euros and has dismissed many of its employees, has been one of the few theatres for which the online distribution was a source of revenue.

It has attracted 19,000 new donors and the number of subscribers to its system VOD is increased from 15 000 in advance of the pandemic to 33 000.

In spite of this “tsunami” of digital, we want to believe in a return to the public.

“The emotions of a room”

“There will be people who will be afraid in a first time,” says Michel Franck, general director of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. But I do not think they will desert the theatres for the benefit of their screens” because “nothing replaces the live show. See an opera on your tv has nothing to do with the fact of sharing the emotions with a room.”

“The value of the live has become greater with this crisis,” says Manuel Brug, critic for the German daily Die Welt. “Go to the theatre is one of the last rituals” of the human being.

For Peter Gelb, director of the Met, and the precursor of the recordings of opera in cinema, “if people do not return to the theatre, the performing arts will not survive. The screen is an experience unique dimension”. “Without an audience, at a given time, we will have nothing to shoot!” he said to the AFP.

Others are even more suspicious.

“There is a risk…those who abuse this medium lose the public”, provided for the daily Kommersant Vladimir Ourine, director of the famous Bolshoi theatre, which has put an end to his recordings (9.5 million views).

For Tamara Rojo, the experience will leave traces.

“The recordings were mainly on the marketing side, but we are investing to create a better digital content,” she said. In the future, “a show can have two lives, one in theatre and another digital very different.”

In Los Angeles, the choreographer Benjamin Millepied, has launched a digital platform pay the content protean, for ten dollars per month.

To pay or not: the theatres subsidised european declined for the most part, unlike the american theatres.

According to Vincent Agrech, producer and critic for Diapason, “the theaters keep free for fear of losing the link with the public.”

“However, this open bar times free has been gnash the teeth in of the artists,” who cede their rights free of charge or receive are symbolic.

According to him, this model is likely to “generate bad practices” because “free is demeaning to the artistic work”.

The spectator will resume the path of the ticket?

“Some are in danger of losing the reflex to go to the theater, others will have rather a surfeit of spectacles”, according to Vincent Agrech.

“The two will co-exist. Who will win? It is still difficult to say.”

Le Soleil

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