Live relays seem set to become an increasingly frequent part of our theatre going experience. At least here in Dundee. This coming Saturday I will be attending the last of this season’s Live Relays from the Met – La Traviata with Nathalie Dessay in the title role. This will be the second season of relays from the Met to be shown at the DCA and a third will start this autumn. I have seen nearly all the performances and have enjoyed just about all of the ones I have seen. We are now getting live relays of ballets from the Bolshoi in Moscow and plays from the National Theatre in London. In addition this summer we can attend some live relays of operas from Glyndebourne. Spoilt for choice. Never thought I could say that about high culture in Dundee.
I am a great fan of live relays. In the first place the quality of the transmission is usually excellent. The HD broadcasts are so much more vivid and realistic than TV at home. There is also the extra buzz from attending a live performance, even if the stage is thousands of miles away. And the cast is usually made up of some of the best singers, dancers, actors in the world. Through in close ups of the performers, interviews backstage and extra information about the performance and you get good value for your money. There is also the fact that for most of us the chances of getting to see a live performance in New York or Moscow are pretty slim. Not to mention that it would cost a small fortune to do so. Even London is still a fair bit away from Dundee and an evening there with a theatre visit is no cheap outing. So long live live relays!
The pricing is interesting though. Not sure if I understand how it is worked out. The Met live relays cost here in Dundee £20 per performance, which is more than three times the cost of a full price ticket for a film. However if you buy a season ticket for all the performances it works out at around £13.50 per opera. A sizeable and useful saving. Even if you miss one or two performances, it still works out cheaper than £20. A season ticket also means you are more likely to attend some operas you might otherwise give a miss. For live relays from the Bolshoi and the National Theatre a ticket costs £12.50. Now why this significant difference? I guess the cost of producing an opera with world class stars is considerably higher than producing a ballet in Moscow or a play in London. On the other hand the live Met relays are now shown all over the world, so must rake in a huge amount of money for the company. In Dundee the cinema theatre seats 217 people. For most of the performances around two thirds to three quarters of the seats are filled. Perhaps a bit more. Must count the next time I’m there. But that kind of attendance strikes me as very good, so the DCA must be making some kind of profit out of these live relays. If more and more theatres offer live relays will the price of a ticket come down? The world of finance and marketing is a mystery to me.
The DCA has now started to show encores of some of the live relays. This summer one will be Götterdämmerung, one of the operas I missed earlier in the year. For these encores the price of a ticket has come down to £15, which is still pretty steep for what is now essentially a film. Anyway I am looking forward to completing the Met’s Ring cycle and to sampling some of this summer’s offerings from Glyndebourne. If you haven’t experienced a live relay, I would heartily recommend you to try it out. There is so much to choose from nowadays, even up here in Dundee. Enjoy!