Saturday, March 26, 2011

How does SocialMedia Shape Cultural Institutions in the Future

This is an interactive action research experiment, connecting opera lovers around the globe, in sharing their experience with social media.

Interacitve international session in the context of (#scdd11 on Twitter):

""#Semperoper & how #SocialMedia plays a role connecting #opera crowd across globe"

LingChan former head  of social media of Vancouver Opera,
AngelaIncampo opera fan from Italy 
RalfLippold, opera & ballet lover from Dresden

RaLi - Good morning, and good night, Ling and Angela, depending on your time zone.

Ling good morning everyone!

RaLi - this will be real "crazy" workshop experiment within #scdd11, the in these minutes starting barcamp in Dresden.

May I start of with the question about your person and what has brought you into the opera field?

Angela Hi

Ling - I love the performing arts, be it opera, ballet, plays or musicals. My very first opera was Turandot at The Met. I think it was in 2005 or 2006. Since then I became entranced by the artform of opera. When an opportunity to work for Vancouver Opera became available, I became interested and applied for the Assistant to Managing Director position. That was in 2007. I was with the company until February 2011.

Working at Vancouver Opera, I've come to appreciate opera and am now a convert. I still consider myself pretty new to the genre; only having been exposed to 14 operas. There's lots more to see!

When I travel, I do try to see if the city I'm in is performing an opera at that time. My last trip to Amsterdam in June 2010, I saw the world premiere of A Dog's Heart. 
I have always loved the old Greek theater and sow it in high school then, one of my best friend here in Italy is a young opera singer and I started my passion for opera thanks to him. I've always loved music expecially classical music but I went to my first opera " Tosca" by Giacomo Puccini with this friend.Then I started going also alone. Then, couple of years ago I started also with Ballet.....

Ralf - My initial connection to the opera was laid out decades ago. My grandma was a great singer, always sticking out of the chorus in church and my mother is an opera lover. Though what did not work when I was small switched when I worked in a large automotive plant and realized the interactions of the different groups are very ballet-like. Last year the Semperoper here in Dresden got a new director, a woman after 350 years, and I saw the connection as publicity arose (due to new website layout and other activities). I write a blog on economic issues of daily since 2008 and now often add reviews about performances on ballet and opera as well. 

As more I see and experience there more connections into "real life" and the work field.

Hi Ling, happy to know your first opera was Turandot (Puccini). I love it. Sow it once in the Petruzzelli Theather (Bari) and I will go to see it again in April at La Scala Theater (Milano).

Hi Angela!
Hi Ling!

Ralf - What is it that really really draws you to the field of opera, and is there something special you love most in the field?

A question...would it make any difference if an opera is performed as a concert and not as a traditional opera performance with all the costumes and scenography?

Angela, unfortunately, I've only so far seen opera in its most theatrical form. Not as a recital. Having said that, I love the whole spectacle of it: the singing, the orchestra, the costumes, wigs, make-up, set decoration, multimedia touches. 

Ralf - hehe. I think I anwered your last question when I was answering Angela's.  

Ralf - Loving the performing arts, also an inspiring element for my work, I love the multifacetted action on stage and the orchestra. Sensing the subtle changes in the field of the actors and seeing the "tipping points" is what challenges me and draws my interest. Ballet is the most fascinating part for as expressing emotions without voice is challenging your mind. You really have to let go to get what lies behind the sheer things you see on stage.

Love ballet. Just came from one tonight. Royal Winnipeg Ballet's tour of Wonderland.

I love ballet too. But I realized I prefer the modern performance. Last year I went to see Giselle. I saw the traditional performance and then the Mats Ek's coreography with Roberto Bolle. Well I was really impressed by Mats Ek's. It fascinated me the modern style and the feeling it was real for our time.

Ling, Ralf Sorry but I have to go now....time over.

nice to meet you Angela! 

Ciao Angela and see you later!

Ralf, did you still want to continue or are you going into the conference now?

Ralf - What was it that made you aware that social media can be a helpful media facilitator for an opera house?

Social media is a fantastic tool, particularly to connect and communicate with new audiences. Especially younger audiences since they are all well-versed in social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter. Opera houses can use social media to engage and educate those new or curious abut opera, get them interested and hopefully turn them into lifelong supporters of the arform. 

In my past work I realized that the new communication tools, social media in the broadest sense, enabled me not only to find information on the web, rather - and more relevant - to interconnect with people across the globe. As the effort and money you need to connect across distances and time zones is almost zero, this new media landscape seems - for me - as facilitating tool for cultural institutions like museums and operas alike to connect with a much broader audience. Getting feedback in an instant by visitors, perhaps even during the performance, seeing the connections that are built up amongst fans of operas and people working on the ensembles is of great benefit for all.

The traditional media can't possibly act as fast and direct. When I visit a performance at Semperoper for example I can write a review within an hour after the event and put it online. As a visitor my personal views can be shared. Writing driven by my inner intent to share what I have seen and experienced is much different to a review a paid journalist will write in the first performance. 

You're absolutely right. The cost involved is minimal but social media is very time-consuming and labour intensive. Companies and employees have to be willing to put in the time and effort. 

That's correct - time consuming and labour intensive are definitely points not to underestimate. However when the activities are leverage across the fan base and even members of the ensemble find fields outside their professional. IstvanSimon,, and IanWhalen,, both members of the ensemble are strong in photography and video making of their team's performances.

Ralf - Where do you see drawbacks in stepping into the Web World for operas?

I don't see any drawbacks when it comes to opera companies utilizing social media. If anything, I think being transparent, 'lifting the veil' and dispelling any myths about opera is a good thing. It gets people interested. Opera is perceived too often as elitist and intimidating to those on the outside. 

Regarding your question about what worked well using social media:

For Vancouver Opera, what worked well for us was our blogger outreach initiative. We invited 4 bloggers to blog about their whole opera experience on opening night. They blogged about their thoughts pre-show, during intermission and after the post-show backstage party.  The bloggers would convey their thoughts to their readers, many of whom have never been to the opera. We started that in early 2008 and it was a successful initiative. We had many first-timers come to the opera after our first Blogger Night. 

Do you have a link to the Blogger Nights?

This really sounds awesome. In a way, I would call myself as one of these bloggers here at Semperoper - though the early mover at the moment. Started the minute I saw the connection to my own life and work.


Link to some of our Blogger Night posts:

We had about 10 Blogger Nights already. 

Great. Thanks a lot Ling.

You're very welcome. I would love to continue the conversation, but I'm afraid I must be going now. That's the bad thing about being in different timezones! It's night and day.

I hope my contributions have been helpful to you!

Thanks so much Ling for joining in at this time of the day and sharing your thoughts. Looking forward to continue our conversation soon.

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