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The Lebrecht Weekly


Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]

Opera makes its next media move

By Norman Lebrecht / June 6, 2007

Covent Garden’s £5.7 million acquisition of a Dutch-owned DVD label is more than it looks on paper. The price might seem high for the right to distribute 140 opera and ballet performances from venues as quaint as Taiwan and Drottningholm, but it signals the ROH’s intention to be a mainframe player in the grand new game of taking opera out of the house and into people’s homes.

Once New York’s Metropolitan Opera beamed its productions onto Lincoln Square last year and into cinemas around the world, Covent Garden knew it had to compete in a fast-evolving environment. Owning the Opus Arte label allows it to put its own past work, including unreleased BBC relays, into shops and onto screens. Tony Hall, the chief executive, has received interest from cinema chains in the UK and Europe. ‘The aim is to build more content and get it out to more people,’ he says.

More significantly, since last week’s takeover major European houses have applied to join the label, creating a potential ‘Star Alliance’, in Hall’s phrase, to combat the Met’s precedence and US dominance. By the time the world takes up watching opera and ballet at home on broadband - early next decade, by most predictions - there will be three or four web sources and Covent Garden means to be one of them. Hall, a former head of BBC News, is turning the ROH into a web-ready broadcaster.

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Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]


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