Discuss: Twitter at the opera?

OperaHouse

Nashville Opera is encouraging audience members to use Twitter to comment on its performances of Tosca tomorrow and Saturday, and promises to project the Tweets in the lobby of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Andrew Jackson Hall during the show’s two intermissions. (Click here for a full report.)

“Social networking has become an integral part of Nashville Opera’s marketing efforts,” says Carol Penterman, the company’s executive director. “The use of Twitter and Facebook has been the ticket sales catalyst for this production, and we see this unique program of projecting ‘tweets’ in the lobby as a natural extension of our networking strategy.”

The marketing strategy makes sense. Whether you think facebook and Twitter are useful tools or huge time-wasters, there’s no denying their popularity and impact on our culture. Social networks help build buzz about shows, boost sales and clue people in on things the might not have even noticed in the arts pages of the local paper or in other old media.

But it seems to me that this is another example of an arts presenter encouraging its audience to not pay attention to the very thing they’ve come to see. The only way there will be Tweets to project at the intermissions would be if patrons are Twittering during the performance.

Does that make sense? Won’t it be a distraction? I’m a big fan of Twitter and facebook. But I find it terribly distracting to sit in a darkened theater and see audience members’ faces glowing with the reflection of their cell phone and BlackBerry screens as they text or Tweet or send facebook messages. And the clicking of the tiny keys adds another dimension to the distraction.

What do you think about this development? Please weigh in!

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2 responses to “Discuss: Twitter at the opera?

  1. Wait, aren’t you the one that’s always tweeting mid-performance? 😉

    At first blush, it sounds like an “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” strategy.

    But I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. And I think projecting the comments encourages a real time conversation, gets people engaged, makes them commit to opinions. That all seems like a positive…

    • I only Twitter before, after or during intermission. Never during the performance in a theater. I draw the line there. Rock shows in clubs are a different matter, I don’t see the distraction factor being so crucial there.

      Now that I think about it, NY City Opera did something a couple of seasons ago, before Twitter exploded, with texting. It got some response, but I don’t think they’ve done it again.

      I agree about creating a real-time conversation, a dialog. I don’t have a problem with encouraging Twittering about the show, but I’m still not convinced that it’s good to encourage it during the performance.

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