Fly-posting: here one day, gone the next

Share
Related Topics

Suddenly opera for the people is gloriously in vogue again. Raymond Gubbay's Savoy Operas may have fallen at the first hurdle, but the Royal Opera and the English National Opera press on undaunted. The Royal Opera will be relaying a performance to CenterParcs. The ENO will stage the third act of
The Valkyrie at Glastonbury. That will go down a treat because great music will reach a new and enthusiastic audience in a memorable setting. Forget about the tortuous reason in the ENO press release, which says that Glastonbury is the perfect setting for Wagner's legends as the English countryside "resounds with the echoes of Britain's comparable legend of King Arthur".

Suddenly opera for the people is gloriously in vogue again. Raymond Gubbay's Savoy Operas may have fallen at the first hurdle, but the Royal Opera and the English National Opera press on undaunted. The Royal Opera will be relaying a performance to CenterParcs. The ENO will stage the third act of The Valkyrie at Glastonbury. That will go down a treat because great music will reach a new and enthusiastic audience in a memorable setting. Forget about the tortuous reason in the ENO press release, which says that Glastonbury is the perfect setting for Wagner's legends as the English countryside "resounds with the echoes of Britain's comparable legend of King Arthur".

But it is another of ENO's opera-for-the-people initiatives that interests me more, and not for wholly positive reasons. In July the company will present a performance of La Bohème in Trafalgar Square in London. The square will be specially turfed over for the evening, allowing 8,000 people to picnic as they watch the show.

The sponsor will be the mobile phone operator O 2, which will enable the audience to vote for the encore, using text messages to pick from four of the arias. So if you want another blast of "Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen", you text the code word Frozen to a given number.

It will be the first time an audience will be able to choose the encore. It will also - though O 2 and ENO make much less of this - be the first time the audience has to pay for an encore. Paul Samuels, head of sponsorship at O 2 UK, says: "Opera is a new and exciting area for us. The partnership with ENO provides an innovative programme of events that raise the profile of opera music to new audiences. The event in Trafalgar Square is going to be a dramatic spectacle and one of the most talked about open-air music events in London this summer. By allowing fans to vote for the final encore of the evening by text message, O 2 is offering a unique interaction with the performance that helps to further bring opera into the mainstream."

I guess it's all pretty harmless fun, yet I worry just a tiny bit. Along with all the other firsts, this will be the first time a sponsor will have such a direct influence on part of a performance at a national arts company. Of course, it's only using text messaging to choose an encore at a one-off event. But those text message possibilities are endless. How long before the sponsor asks the regular audience to text its preferred repertoire for the season? That, it could be argued, would be true people's opera.

Letting the sponsors help literally to call the tune can be a dangerous game.

* I AM happy to be called as a character witness for the record company executives accused this week of illegal fly-posting to advertise concerts. I can confirm that they take posters down as well as put them up.

The unusual sight of senior record company personnel sneaking around London in the small hours ripping down posters occurred when Barbra Streisand last appeared over here back in the Nineties. The record company bigwigs who picked her up at the airport proudly pointed out a poster on their drive into London. "Streisand in Concert: The Event of the Decade," it proclaimed. The diva was appalled. "What! Only the decade!" she is said to have shrieked, without a hint of irony. "Take those posters down," she ordered. The record company bigwigs duly obliged.

They were from Sony Music, one of the record companies which stand accused of fly-posting. I am sure that, with a bit of crafty re-telling, the Streisand episode could be made to look like civic duty.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron addresses No campagn supporters in Aberdeen  

Scottish independence: Cameron faces a choice between destroying his country or his party

Matthew Norman
Fighters from Islamic State group sit on their tank during a parade in Raqqa, Syria  

Islamic State: Assad lures Obama into his web

Robert Fisk
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week