From programme to screen

How does the Bayerische Staatsoper’s live stream programme come together? What hurdles have to been overcome? What costs and risks lie in wait? And what does all this have to do with our KILL YOUR DARLINGS season theme?

Read the German article here.

A laptop and internet access, you don't need more to watch our live streams.

You could imagine it like this: The colleagues responsible for our live streams play “request programme”. The Staatsoper’s programme is leafed through about a year before the season begins and the “beauties” are picked out – these, of course, are usually the new productions. But we also love to present additional performances with our Chief Musical Director Kirill Petrenko or superbly cast productions from years gone by, as with Andreas Kriegenburg’s Wozzeck with Christian Gerhaher at the end of November, so we can offer a diverse stream season.

Relatively speaking this phase 1 is a piece of cake, which is why we’ve already completed it for the coming 20/21 season. Phase 1 brings forth a list with some 30 to 35 performances. Minimisation of the dates according to the main focus at the time then begins in phase 2: the streams are spread as evenly as possible over the season and happen on a weekend – ultimately we want our fans in other time zones to also enjoy! Amount remaining: about 20 to 25.


Seats have to be reserved for the camera team.

So far so good! Unfortunately in phase 3 it gets complicated. The main reason is because since 2010 our streams (as one of the first opera houses worldwide no less), are considered an extension of our cultural mission, and it’s important for us to provide the opportunity to experience, partake in and enjoy opera to as many viewers as possible all over the globe. So to be able to continue offering this free of charge service, in phase 3 “letters of request” will be sent to all participating performers, the lead team of directors, stage and costume designers, the Staatsoper Choir and the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, to obtain agreement from one and all for the stream. As our streams do not pursue any commercial goal, we depend on the fact that all participants – sometimes more than 200 people!  – are happy to be on board. Of course we understand if one or two performers don’t want to subject themselves to the additional pressure of cameras in a performance.

But this isn’t the only obstacle. After this we go to the negotiations with the publishers of the pieces performed. Since increasingly more streams are now shown around the world, there has been a certain rethinking in this area. Unfortunately, however, the costs for a stream in individual cases are too high, especially with new music, or with pieces whose creators died after 1949 (in Germany copyright applies for 70 years after the year in which the composer died). Amount remaining after phase 3: 15 to 20.

Glamour on stage – at the director's box not so much

Thereafter calculating begins – phase 4. As a stream devours a medium five-digit amount for cameras, microphone arrangement, staff and streaming technology, on the whole we can only stream seven or eight performances per year. And then there are still a lot of details to be sorted out: Is the conductor’s favourite sound engineer available on the chosen date? Has the visual director enough time to prepare? Are stage set, masks and wigs also really ready for a close-up in HD? And, essential in opera of course: What’s the best microphone arrangement for perfect sound? Is the stage set designed so that microphones can’t be fixed on the stage elements and therefore requires wireless microphones? These are fixed on the singer’s body, and their use in turn also requires an OK by the individual soloists ...

Only when all these factors are satisfied and all puzzle parts put together can we communicate and give you the dates. This usually happens in the autumn of the current season, after many areas of the house have already worked for months on the performance for you. And more or less the same also applies with DVD productions: Only when all hurdles are overcome can we share our happy message with you. As coincidence would have it, today is indeed just such a happy day! The performances of Die tote Stadt will be staged on 1 and 6 December. But don’t go nuts just yet! Whether or not there will actually be a DVD depends once again on many factors – so many it doesn’t bear thinking about.  “Vom Spielplan auf Ihren Bildschirm, Vol. 2” (From programme to screen, vol. 2) may well also be here soon.

Until then we’ll be happy to keep on “puzzling” for you and do everything to satisfy your requests. Of course we’re also aware of the desire for individual performances, and we too would have liked to have added some pieces to the list of stream dates. Unfortunately, it was not to be. But this is where our season theme fits right in: KILL YOUR DARLINGS – even if it’s painful. Let go, make space for new, bid adieu. Who knows if it’s to be a farewell forever?


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