If I told you that I just watched a three-hour opera, and live tweeted during the entire time– you’d think that I was nuts! Right? Well, what’s even more nuts is that it was allowed. Cray! Cray!
San Francisco Opera invited 10 people out of 30 applicants to live tweet yesterday during the final dress rehearsal of John Adam’s opera, Nixon In China. They spread the news via their blog, Facebook Post and Tweets. San Francisco Opera BRAVO! Club also joined in spreading the news over their social channels. The application asked for the basics – Name, Email, Twitter and Blog. Plus, they wanted to know if you were part of an arts organization. As soon as I knew about the program, I filled out my application — about an hour before the deadline. I received an email that evening that I was accepted and instructions on what to do on Tuesday afternoon at the dress rehearsal.
Even though I applaud the SF Opera for doing their Tweet Seat program, it needs a few improvements to reach a larger fan base.
1. Announcement of program:
There are many tech savvy opera-goers who don’t frequently read the SF Opera’s blog or social posts that would have liked to go. Historically, the SF Opera has used print and email marketing as their primary forms of communicating with their patrons. By only publishing the invite on their social media channels, they limited the program’s overall reach. Maybe this was their goal – limit the reach of the program so they could have a smaller group to work with this time. But, I’m just guessing.
2. What you could or could not share:
Honestly, it played with my mind a lil’ to be able to tweet during a live performance. I usually go to an art performance to simply unplug. The very fact that I was live tweeting inside THE SF Opera house took some time to get accustomed to. However, once the novelty wore off, the tweets took flight. But once that bird had flown, it was hard to restrain it. And, unfortunately I had to show a lot of restraint. We were not allowed to post any photos or videos once the opera started. It took all of my will power not to Instagram or Social Cam during the performance. Apparently, the SF Opera could have been sued if we posted any multimedia of the sets. It’s really too bad that they restricted us to text only. Photos and videos have a greater chance of being shared throughout social networks. This would have helped their overall reach – their main promotional goal. In full disclosure, I did post one photo during the performance and then erased it after some scolding from my online networks. *facepalm*
Once I did get used to this Tweet Seat social experiment, I noticed a few things:
1. Paying attention:
It was difficult to really pay attention to the opera. I was looking for things to tweet, not sitting back to soak in the opera. You can tell in the tweet stream when all of us were really involved in what was going on stage, because we all stopped tweeting. Madame Mao Tse-tung, played by Hye Jung Lee, had a very powerful and almost pissed off aria during Act 11. All of us stopped tweeting until the aria ended. During the Beijing Opera scene in Act 11, our tweeting stopped in it’s tracks. The dancing was so mesmerizing that I completely forgot everything except the beauty on stage. It’s a good thing it was a final dress rehearsal because I can always go back and see the opera again.
2. Online dialog:
Once we all got over the novelty of tweeting at the opera, we started tweeting with each other. Nixon In China has moments that reminded us of Phillip Glass. Even though John Adams and Phillip Glass are not exactly friends, it made us wonder where else his influence could come from if not his enemy. I personally also tweeted with my online friends about what I was experiencing.
With all that being said, I really enjoyed my Tweet Seats at the opera. They placed us in box seats – smack dab in the middle – where we could see all the action. I even spotted John Adams and Donato Cabrera in the orchestra watching the performance.
It was also great meeting all my fellow tweeters- Christopher D. Lewis @NewHarpsichord, Alicia Johnson @UrbanAreaAlicia, David Newman @dnsf, John Boitnott @jboitnott, Michael Owens @mko, Susan McConkey @smcconkey, Nancy Roberts @leapingotter, Joseph M. Colombo @JMColombo, Jean Shirk @bean, @SFCV, and Steve Rhodes @tigerbeat.
I was tweeting from my own handle @amywhiggins and for the San Francisco BRAVO! Club @SFOBravoClub.
For a full twitter report- check out #NixonInSF on my Storify here.