Thursday, September 09, 2010

Not All Publicity is Good.

And if you're a big opera house, try not to turn good publicity into bad.

Putting it another way, Intermezzo has been blogging about opera in London and around Europe for a few years now, and has published many interesting and informative reviews of productions and performances at the Royal Opera House.

Intermezzo got email from the ROH asking her to take down all photos included in her postings that are "referenced to performances at the ROH." In response, she took down all of her ROH postings. She also published the correspondence she received, and her replies. (Do follow that link!)

Look at it this way: the ROH got a lot of good, free publicity from someone who was paying for tickets. Their action has resulted in the loss of that publicity and, I bet, any future publicity.

Way to go, ROH!


Kyle L said...

Reminds me of what La Scala pulled with Opera Chic not too long ago.

If I remember correctly they requested her to take down all her photos of productions too. Plus change her logo--which was a tasteful manipulation of the opera house's logo.

I really don't get it either.

Chris Foley said...

I have three minor ROH references on the Collaborative Piano Blog, so I suppose I'll be getting a letter from them soon.

sfmike said...

I think the problem were the pictures of the curtain calls which Intermezzo was taking herself at the Royal Opera House. I've run into the same problems over the last five years. Christine Kellogg at Cal Performances called me at home some years ago and insisted I take down photos of John Adams and Alarm Will Sound taking curtain calls at UC Berkeley.

The San Francisco Symphony has been the best and most accommodating organization, allowing me to take discreet non-flash photos during the bows for a number of years now. The San Francisco Opera House is a different story, with the current House Manager acting like a bouncer at a clue for 20-somethings. He has vowed to 86 me forever if he catches me taking a photo inside the house, which is absurd and counterintuitive. Like Intermezzo, I'm creating publicity and interest while trying to explain an art form to smart people who might not necessarily know anything about the subject. Most arts management still don't get it.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I'm sure Mike is right about what the problems were. I am curious about the possible legal issues here, about the venues and artists' rights to control photo taking and images.

I'll just limit myself to saying that SFS is really smart to allow your photos, which are always interesting and accompanied by smart comments. The same has been true of Intermezzo's blog postings.

sfmike said...

Thanks for the kind words, and I agree completely about Intermezzo's photos. They're interesting and give you a real feel for a production.

John Marcher said...

ROH issued an apology today. I think that's fantastic.

Lisa Hirsch said...


Is this in a press release or email to Intermezzo?

John Marcher said...

Parterre posted a link to their Twitter feed.

John Marcher said...

This is the link- it's a press release:


Lisa Hirsch said...


mlaffs said...

@SFMike and Lisa, you guys are welcome to take flash-free photos at any event I invite you to. I'll deal with the flak from the less-understanding colleagues in my organization ;-)
I'm arts admin and I get it ;-)