Cheapest NY City Opera Ticket: $25
Cheapest NY Giants Ticket: $75

Clearly the assumption that no one goes to opera because it’s too expensive is false.

Not to mention that Super Bowl tickets are going for as much as $14,000. With even the cheapest Super Bowl ticket, you could buy more than six whole season subscriptions to the NY City Opera. The choice is difficult: treat your family to entertainment for a whole year or splurge on yourself for one night.

While the Super Bowl looms, my statement a while back that society gathers at the playing field rather than at the opera house is more apparent than ever. But why do Americans pay top dollar for sporting events and think a classical concert is too expensive?

Supply and Demand Controls Ticket Prices

Law 1: If demand increases and supply remains unchanged, then prices will rise. There’s only one Super Bowl each year with a limited number of seats. Millions of Americans put value on the game, which has pushed prices higher and higher.

Law 2: If supply increases and demand remains unchanged, then prices will fall.
Attendance at opera concerts is at a relatively stable number and the supply for tickets is plentiful. Therefore the price for an opera concert is actually quite affordable.

Ticket prices for both opera and football are actually accurate based on what the people can and will pay. This shifts the dispute from the cost of the ticket to the level of the demand. So why was opera, one of the most popular entertainment types of all time, surpassed by football?

Juxtaposing Football and Opera

To answer the question one NPR blog reader wrote, “It is more an issue of prioritization. No one, including the federal level of decision makers, puts the arts at top priority. Therefore, it does not seem of value to pay $30 to $50 for a ticket. Conversely, $200 for a sporting event seems like a bargain. Paying $10 each morning at Starbucks is no problem. If the arts are valued, people will go. Period.”

Inherent differences between a show and a game may lead people to place more value on a game. An opera has a script to follow. A specific opera will be the same story every time, although interpretations will make each performance different. Like movies, many people feel the need to watch an opera only once, unless of course it’s your favorite. However, just because the Giants and the Patriots met at the Super Bowl in 2008 does not mean that the story will have the same ending in 2012. No one knows the outcome. And whenever New England plays New York in any sport it’s going to be exciting to watch.

New England fans are some of the most passionate in the country when it comes to sports. In fact, Travel and Leisure Magazine just dubbed Boston #2 for sports crazed cities and residents are “guilty of gloating about their championship sports teams.” Fans pick a side and loyally defend it. Opera lacks this camaraderie. There are no bets to be made, no jersey’s to wear, no opponents to bash. Everyone is on the same team. There’s neither anyone to love nor anyone to hate so a crowd of opera goers does not feel the same connection with each other as a crowd of Patriots fans.

The media also contributes to the popularity of sports. How many ESBN channels cover football 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, even when it’s not in season? How many channels cover opera? How many times does football make the 5:00 news? How many times does opera? Of course the American people want more football, so media broadcasts it to catch viewers, which in turn hooks more people on football. Opera lovers don’t demand opera news, which means it doesn’t get broadcast, which means new people don’t learn about it.  

Opera Still Entertains

While trends abroad show that opera is making a comeback (more people in Great Britain attend theatre shows than sports events) there’s no sign that this is true in the United States. But opera has stolen a few news headlines recently. Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, is hosting a competition where she will sign one or two opera singers to her record label. She hopes to get the genre back in the mainstream. And Morris Robinson (featured above) is a football player turned opera star, which goes to show that anything is possible. While opera may not be the top subject posted on Facebook, it’s still singing.

Posted on January 25, 2012
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Comments [2]

  • 25 Jan, 2012 S. says:

    Did you hear Steve Tyler sing the National Anthem at the AFC game last weekend? Now there's where football could have used an opera singer!

  • 27 Jan, 2012 Super Bowl Commercials 2012 says:

    Excellent pieces. Keep posting such kind of information on your blog. I really impressed by your blog.
    Super Bowl Commercials 2012

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