Drew McManus wrote a post recently about the benefits and drawbacks of brevity in concert programming. He has written on this subject in the past on his blog Adaptistration, and it is a very important and touchy subject. This particular post discusses the Chicago Opera Theater’s double feature of Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and Schönberg’s Erwartung, with a combined running time of around 90 minutes.
Such a short running time is unusual for opera, but I am a huge fan of keeping orchestral concerts under the two hour mark. Drew mentions that audiences complain either way–if programs are too short they feel that they don’t get their money’s worth, and if they are too long they get exhausted. With parking, dinner, time spent in the lobby before the concert and during intermission, and other such activities, that two hour concert can take up a solid five or six hours of a person’s evening. In the opera world this long evening is often expected, but audiences can become fatigued and irritable as that clock edges past the two hour mark in the orchestral world. I see it all the time from the stage–restless shuffling of feet, surreptitious glances at watches, lots of extraneous coughing and ‘harumphing’–people get tired, and that one extra piece or speech that ‘just has to be on the program’ may stick in their craw and affect their future attendance.
Leave them wanting more, not less!
Check out Drew’s post here.
- My TAFTO post for Adaptistration
- Roger Ruggeri TAFTO contribution
- Bill Harris TAFTO contribution
- Bass Blog highlighted on Adaptistration