Opera Project conflicting with Columbus Symphony schedule? Why it’s not good.

Jean-Marie Zeitouni Columbus Symphony

Jean-Marie Zeitouni

Glancing at the website for the new Columbus performing organization, Opera Project, which I introduced in yesterday's post, I see that the inaugural event conflicts with an inaugural event of sorts for the Columbus Symphony, the first in a series of concerts, led by our promising new Music Director Jean-Marie Zeitouni, at the Southern Theater.

Anytime there is a change from tradition in a performing organization's schedule, in this case a change of venue from the Ohio Theater to the Southern, there tends to be a drag on audience development until patrons become accustomed to the change. And while I have no doubt that the new venue will enhance the variety and quality of musical events in Columbus, the promising Southern series may struggle the first few concerts.

The new Opera Project's first event, a concert version of Giacomo Puccini's SUOR ANGELICA led by Alessandro Siciliani, takes place at the Columbus Pontifical College Jospephinium Chapel, I looked up their schedule, and found only a single event there in December, when Pro Musica (another organization which may conflict with the Symphony) plays a seasonal concert on Dec 11th. That's it.

Why would Opera Project, which presumably wants to support the beleaguered musicians of the Symphony (at least I hope they do, with Alessandro Sciliani at the helm), schedule a direct conflict with an critical new series by the Columbus Symphony?

To be clear the Symphony event at the Southern is a strings only concert. So while the strings will not be available to play for both the Symphony and the Opera Project, the winds and brass could. Also, the Symphony schedule is quite full during that time, making it difficult to schedule any weekend activity which does not conflict with it. However, there are 3 or 4 weekends from October to December which do not conflict.

So, did Project Opera consider the potential damage it could cause to the very local musicians its mission statement indicates it wishes to employ? Did they confer with the Symphony to try to eliminate the conflict?

As I continue to advise, performing arts organizations must cooperate and coordinate with each other, if not in consolidation of "backroom" management costs as the Columbus Symphony has done, then in schedules, so that struggling musicians do not fall through the cracks with audience dollars and schedules spread too thin to back any one group substantially.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

6 comments for “Opera Project conflicting with Columbus Symphony schedule? Why it’s not good.

  1. Andrea Lynch
    November 1, 2011 at

    You said yourself people in Columbus attend “event specific” concerts, so if I choose to attend my son’s performance at a high school musical or college conservatory concert or even a Jazz Arts concert, should all of these performances revolve around the CSO’s schedule? I think you are trying to create a discord…please do not discourage fledgling groups. Thank you.

    • November 6, 2011 at

      Hi Andrea. Two big classical events on the same night in Columbus will cause audience depletion for both. I hope the new opera company will work with the Columbus Symphony to bring classical music to all, and to pay the musicians union minimum wages.

  2. August 29, 2011 at

    James, thanks for your comment. I’ll spread the word. David

  3. August 29, 2011 at

    I wanted to let you and your readers know of the unethical practices of the Opera Project of Columbus. I wonder if other musicians in the area have experienced this? I was contacted by a representative from the OP asking if I was available to perform. After a few conservations we discussed the dates/rehearsals/performances and pay. We agreed and I booked them on my calendar which is fantastic, however, a full week later i was contacted stating my services were no longer needed. I did not have a written contract signed yet, it was a non union engagement, but I had a verbal agreement which to the staff of the OP clearly means nothing. Due to their short sighted planning and poor communication skills not only did I lose out on the income that I was budgeting for the month of October, I also turned away conflicting engagements which have been booked already. Be warned if you’re contacted by the Opera Project of Columbus and get everything in writing.

  4. Rainer Steinhoff
    July 25, 2011 at

    You make an interesting point.

    Inevitably, however, any city that has a vibrant arts community is going to have several events on the same nights. There are only so many weeks in the year, and many diverse performing organizations are ready to compete for the audience’s attention. I also believe that central Ohio has enough musical talent to perform in multiple venues simultaneously.

    It’ll be interesting to see what this will do to over-all concert attendance.

    • July 25, 2011 at

      Hi Rainer. I agree with you that a city with a vibrant arts community, or should I say a vibrant city with a vibrant arts community, should be able to support multiple events in one night. But the difference here is that, unfortunately, Columbus is not particularly “vibrant” after 5 pm. I don’t write such criticism without years of experience. The life of the arts after 5 pm on any day is event specific, where people scurry from parking garage to one event, then leave immediately after. There are no areas in downtown Columbus which are “bustling” on a Friday or Saturday evening, except once a month for the Short North gallery hop. Why this is true is not for me to answer.

Comments are closed.