Bryan Caplan  

Twilight of the Twilight of the Gods

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I've been an opera fan for two decades, and I've never heard of macroeconomic events affecting the world of opera - until now.  The DC Opera is cancelling (or at least delaying) the American Ring:

"Seven years ago, Washington National Opera began planning a Ring cycle, which is one of the most ambitious and expensive undertakings for any opera company. At the time, the economic climate was relatively stable, and the company was confident in its ability to raise the additional funds necessary to support so huge an effort. Now, however, the dramatic changes in the nation's economy have made all of us who are responsible for WNO's welfare reluctantly come to the difficult decision to postpone the Ring cycle until the financial climate becomes more positive," stated General Director Plácido Domingo.
In case you haven't heard, Wagner's Ring cycle closes with the end of the world (and redemption through love, but don't get me started).  It's strange, then, that popular fears about "the end of the world" are preventing me from seeing an operatic depiction thereof...

HT: Tyler


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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Eric writes:

They're probably still going to do it at the Met in NYC next spring. I have no idea what the ticket availability is though.

Colin Fraizer writes:

Yo, Caplan,

Next time, could you flag this with "SPOILER ALERT"?!

:-)

--Colin

K.M. Hagen writes:

Well, yeah. Opera and ballet are largely supported in this country by private donations by the affluent (very few to zero opera companies survive on ticket sales alone). If the stock market crash makes the affluent less likely to cut a charitable check— or as generous a check as in previous years— , ambitious new productions will suffer. The lead time for opera productions is long, yes, but AFAIK most of the budget isn't raised at the beginning, but is raised (and spent) as it goes along.

I work for a business that paints scenery for opera and ballet companies, FWIW.

I'll raise you another economic hypothesis. What we've noticed is that business often seems slower in Presidential election years, regardless of macroeconomic conditions. Is it that affluent are substituting one form of signaling for another (donations to Obama rather than Aida, McCain rather than MacBeth)? Or that just time itself drags during an electoral campaign?

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