In a surprise move, The Royal Opera has just announced the takeover of DVD producer/ distributor Opus Arte. The label, which has a reputation for quality recordings of operas and ballets, will join the company’s existing CD Heritage label, as part of an overall strategy to extend their commercial activities. It is the first time an opera house has acquired its own DVD production and distribution company.
Opus Arte will be run by the RO management “at arm’s length” and there is currently no talk of staff changes.
The Royal Opera’s Chief Executive, Tony Hall, says “In acquiring Opus Arte we have achieved a multiple win. We have over 40 wonderful recordings of productions by The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet available for distribution, Opus Arte has a catalogue of some 140 titles. This gives us a substantial entry into the global DVD and digital market place. As a significant part of our digital strategy it also hugely increases what we have to offer our audiences both in and beyond the opera house, with new material for our website, and for education purposes. Opus Arte also possesses enviable production and post production skills that would prove a significant accelerator for our own big digital ambitions.”
With fewer TV broadcasts at the Opera House these days, opera fans will have to shell out if they want to see productions they miss live. Opus Arte DVDs currently retail at 20-30 and there is no mention of what future pricing might be. It has to be said that recordings in the Royal Opera’s historical Heritage series of CDs, aimed at something of a specialist market, are not the cheapest available.
This is an interesting departure and it will be fascinating to see over time what effect it has on both the ROH’s finances and on those of the buying public.