Opera Audience in the Digital Environment and Online Streams during COVID-19 Lockdown

Author: Miriam Mary Brgles, Dora Škender


The article focuses on the following questions: How does the opera audience follow the recent production? Which digital media outputs do they use? What is their motivation? Can opera broadcasts in movie theaters be considered a cultural happening within the new paradigm? In the United States, research results show that there has been a shift in the paradigm regarding the concept of cultural event. Although recent trends in the research of theater audience in Western countries suggest that, in the context of developing this type of opera audience, the focus of research should be broadened to “non-audience”, such research has never been conducted in Croatia. This qualitative research uses a phenomenological approach and the following research methods: participant observation, a semi-structured interview with four participants (opera lovers), and content analysis. The research has shown that the role of the virtual space is almost as equally important as the physical space of the theater, although characterized by significant differences and specific shortcomings. It also seems that the audience accepts the reality of opera broadcasts taking place in the virtual space, as evidenced by the high interest, motivation, and expectations. The number of online opera streams increased during the COVID-19 lockdown and the article lists opera houses which launched some (free) series. In this case, tearing down spatial and temporal boundaries shows the potential for expanding Dollase’s (1998) audience categorization with a new category – digital opera audience.

Key words: audience, opera, social interaction, social networks, theater
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