|John Relyea (L) as Attila. Photo © Elise Bakketun|
Got news for you: opera's a limited-run medium. Six shows in this case, five of them with the high-priced, imported cast. These guys are scheduled two-three years in advance, can't shift even if they wanted to. Opera houses all over the world, unbreakable contracts. General directors can't pick up the phone to a dozen colleagues in Italy, Spain, France, Japan, Detroit, Cleveland, & say, "Sorry, we had a snowstorm so Johnny can't be there next week; he's got to do a makeup performance in Seattle."
Season ticket-holders can switch to another show if they can't come tonight; that's one of the perks of subscribing. But because of the unusual circumstances, the Opera is allowing even single-performance ticket-holders to switch if they can't make. More than fair, I say.
Thing is, an opera company is a multimillion-dollar business with a very limited product line. Five or six shows a year, 6 to 10 performances, so something between 30 and 60 actual events. An auditorium that seats perhaps 3,000. A payroll of artists and artisans numbering well over 100, plus the local musicians, not to mention the international singers.
Nobody's forcing anyone to drive to tonight's show. But it's at Seattle Center, walking distance for lots of people. Earlier today, they announced $40 "rush" seats. What more do you want?
Cry all you want about Seattle "losing" the Sonics, the prestige of Seattle Opera more than makes up for it.