If You Show Live Met Opera for $20 at the Movie Theater, Will People Come?

Cedar Falls, Iowa is not lacking in culture. The town houses University of Northern Iowa and with that the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center where touring companies of several performing arts come every year. Usually, at least one opera is performed per season at that venue, but the only opera performed there was the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre’s production of Madama Butterfly, after being displaced by the flooding.

The movie theater located in that city is on the opposite spectrum of the fine culture offered by the University. The owners of that theater seem interested in only showing the biggest films possible on multiple screens. Although, this continues to leave me flumouxed after seeing The Simpsons Movie on it’s opening weekend in an empty theater, which was one of three it was being shown on. I was rather thrilled when I discovered that they were airing the HD Live series of the Metropolitan Opera on certain Saturdays.

As I’ve recanted earlier on this blog, the operas are $20, something Marcus Theaters, which is the chain the theater belongs to, failed to tell me on their website. This is not a price that Fantom, the distributor, is charging. According to Fantom’s website, prices vary by theaters.

There may be some people who enjoy opera enough, and can afford the price, to go and see these at the College Square Theater. While I greatly enjoy opera, I can’t afford this, especially during months where they show two operas. I need money to buy tickets to review plays which is what I’m a bit more concerned with. You can get discounted vouchers from Iowa Public Radio, lowering the price to $12. (See this website.) These vouchers, however, are in limited quantity and if you’re not the first, you still have to pay $20.

What are those craving culture or opera in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area to do?

Well, Iowa Public Radio broadcasts the operas live every Saturday at 12 p.m. Sure, you’re not getting to watch the operas and there is no translation, but it’s free and live. And listening to it in the comfort of your home sure beats sitting in a movie theater where people wanting to see Bolt will come in before the opera’s over.

PBS also airs several Met operas months after they close, but again, it’s free and in the comfort of your home. (FYI: La Damnation De Faust airs Feb. 28 at noon eastern.) My mother has pointed out, on this topic, that something she sees as a downside of watching a filmed opera is that you have to watch what the director wants you to watch, something you have the freedom of when watching it un-filmed. If this bothers you, wouldn’t it be better to watch it without paying for it?

By the way, I have yet to speak to an individual that would pay $20 for an opera at the movie theater. In fact, most people were aghast at this price and these were people both with high brow tastes and those that would probably be considered an average movie going audience.

What it boils down to is that especially now with the sinking economy, this is not reasonable. For so many of us, we’ll just wait for an opera to air on PBS, where it will be more comfortable and free.

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