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Offering a fresh way of helping you keep up with art and entertainment happenings around the Capital District.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lake George Opera needs to get it's act together

I have been a fan of Lake George Opera Festival all the way back to when it performed in the Queensbury High School in Glens Falls. But now I am starting to fear for the organization.

Opera has a loyal but limited fan base and I'm starting to hear rumblings about LGOF. This season did not help the discontent. They offered a lackluster production of "Carmen" and a shallow presentation of the less-than inspiring comic one-act (extended to two acts) "Viva La Mamma."

I've always wondered about a 12-month a year organization that has such a limited schedule as does LGOF. Consider that they offer only six performances of "Carmen," one of the most popular and commercial operas ever written. The Little Theatre in Saratoga Springs sits about 500 people, so this means the entire run of "Carmen" is about equal to one performance at Proctors or the Palace Theatre.

"Viva La Mamma" with four performances had a potential audience of 2,000 people.

I'm not suggesting LGOF perform at one of the large venues. It's great to see opera performed in an intimate space. However, LGOF has to figure out how to better use that space. The same set seems to be used for every major opera and having the musicians high above and in the rear of the singers is less than an ideal situation. All the shows look under-rehearsed.

Tickets to any opera is not cheap. LGOF charges $85 for the better seats. The cheapest ticket is $45, which is about the cost of Capital Rep's most expensive ticket.

It isn't easy. A ten show run in a house with a 500 seat capacity with an average ticket price of say $60 means a gross potential of $300,000. That's not a lot of money with which to run a company that keeps a twelve month presence in the area.

You can't charge much more money for the product LGOF is offering and you can't go out and get major star performers for the salaries they must offer. Nonetheless, they have to improve or audiences will desert them. Start with production values, adventurous programming and finding the best emerging talent in the industry.

Lake George Opera Festival is a valuable cultural asset for this area. Let's hope they are around for a long time. Let's hope they make some improvements that will help make that happen.


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