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4.12.03

Saving the Metropolitan Opera Broadcast

Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, New York CityTune in this Saturday at 1:30 pm for the Preview of the new (and last) season of the ChevronTexaco radio broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera (see my post on November 15, La Juive at the Met). If you don't know already, you can find out here if there is a station that carries the broadcast in your listening area: in the Washington area, tune to local PBS station WETA (90.9 FM). In a devastating blow to the American arts world that really depresses me, ChevronTexaco announced in May that this season will be the last Met opera broadcast that it will fund, ending a cherished tradition of over 60 years.

Happily, it is being reported today that some help has arrived, in the person of Leonore Annenberg, director of the Annenberg Foundation, which has announced that it will donate $3.5 million (half of one year's operating costs) for next year's broadcast season. In an article (Gift Aims to Keep Met Opera on the Air, December 4) in the New York Times, Robin Pogrebin reports that Beverly Sills, chairwoman of the Met, and the opera board received the good news from Ms. Annenberg at their board meeting on November 20. According to Ms. Sills, Ms. Annenberg was personally involved in the decision to offer the funding:

"She was distressed when Texaco announced its departure," Ms. Sills said. "She just came forward and that was that. [. . .] Of course, morale shot right up."
Ms. Sills hopes that the Annenberg gift will help and encourage another sponsor to make at least a five-year commitment to continuing the broacasts. According to her, hopes are high that another corporation will come forward in the next two months, although she wisely did not mention any possible names. It is good to hear that Ms. Sills is on the warpath:
[The broadcasts] "have to continue," Ms. Sills said. "In my old age, I am getting to treasure tradition. I'm just not willing to let this thing disappear."
I doubt that I have any readers among top executives in corporate America, but whatever company has the courage and responsibility to step up to the plate for the Met radio broadcast will have the eternal gratitude of Ionarts, as well as plenty of free advertising and good will from this site. You can make possible live broadcasts of the best American opera company, 20 times a year, carried on 360 stations in 42 different countries to the ears of 10 million listeners per year. Some of those listeners are hearing live opera for the first time, and a lot of them, like me, get hooked.

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