Last Saturday, Minnesota Opera hosted a “hipster guest” (yep, we asked an intern to do it) on our official Twitter account, who provided a series of irreverent live tweets about Madame Butterfly. The intent was to brush the dust off some musty impressions that opera is elitist, stuffy or boring. These tweets drew lively debate – and just criticism.
We fully acknowledge that the execution of this idea was lacking, and that when attempts like ours go awry, it is really frustrating to those who really do social media well. We appreciate the engagement of those who joined the debate, many of whom provided very constructive criticism. This feedback will help us develop better social media programs as we enter more thoughtfully into this realm in the future.
We are madly in love with this art form and will do crazy things sometimes to show it. At the heart of this experiment was the desire to invite new voices into a conversation about an art form that so many people find intimidating. It’s the same desire that drove us to invite bloggers and sketch artists into our productions in the last two seasons, and the same impulse that led us to create silly TV commercials. The difference in these examples, of course, is that we involved people who are a lot better than we are at blogging, sketching or producing videos. This deserved the same eye toward excellence, and it didn’t receive it. And unfortunately, to many who share our devotion to opera, even our intentions weren’t clear.
It’s our hope that those who engaged in this particular conversation with Minnesota Opera and about opera will continue to do so, and continue to challenge us to put the same thoughtful preparation into our “productions” online as we put into our productions on stage.
Though we won’t repeat the mistakes we made in this experiment, we will continue to take risks. And we will do it better moving forward having learned from this.