State Opera and Ballet

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A Brief History of the Opera Audience and the Turkish Bourgeoisie

According to the opera house of the French King Louis XV, the high-ranking nobles were placed in the most prominent lodges. For the participants of this order, opera was an important label and a place of self-expression.

Between 1749 and 1757 there were 135 first class lodge subscribers. 4 of these subscribers were ordinary citizens, 3 of them were wealthy Parisian society. 51% of the remaining people were princes, dukes and palace officials. Prestige was synonymous with first-class lodges.

The Jacobin club, which took over the administration after the French revolution, filled the halls with an ideological audience and repertoire. The revolution first destroyed its enemies, then its own children. The new management wanted to strike a balance in the middle. A radiant society emerged from the ashes of the destruction brought about by the revolution. Weapons dealers for war, moneylenders, landowners and bankers were the bourgeois of the new order.

Napoleon, who came to power with the 1799 coup, gave the lodges reserved for the nobles of the old regime to the powerful rulers of the government. Prestige complied with protocol.

Another innovation that came with the Emperor was that the audience got tickets per performance. While lodges were rented by 1788 people in 368, this figure decreased to 1809' in 53 and to 1812 in 26. The opera, which earned 1785 million francs between 89-1.5, could only earn 1806 francs between 10-641.000.

I mentioned Paris before and after the revolution above. Of course, all these practices, spilled blood and institutional memory did not remain imprisoned in France. Beginning with Europe, a climate of thought and art that will dominate the whole world has emerged. Our country was also affected by these currents. I will continue to share examples and figures from Paris, which experienced its artistic maturity hundreds of years before the world. My purpose in doing this is not to create an "idol", but to weigh the ideal.

from Paris to Ankara

The opera stage in Ankara has 621 seats. When Leyla Gencer Stage is added to this, we reach the number of 1.286 seats in the Capital. Istanbul 1.018, Izmir 1.151 and the list goes on. The State Opera and Ballet has a total of 6 stages in 9 cities. The total number of seats is 5632. Paris Opera (Opera Garnier) has a capacity of 1.979 seats and the population of the city is 2.1 Million (2020)

Inequality of physical and financial resources may be the first thought that comes to mind, although I have not shared data yet. You are right, but the results and findings we will obtain from this point will be important and advisory for the correct direction of art institutions. Do not forget; We will focus on self-criticism and what can be done under current conditions by analyzing the best representative of the application, not comparison. I would like to remind you in advance that we will present critical thoughts instead of learned helplessness in this brainstorming, and that these thoughts will be based on concrete reports, not abstract feelings, unlike the indigent group.

Top Manager Presentation

State Opera and Ballet, which performs a versatile activity in terms of quality, service and education in national and international artistic events in our country, also increases its success in reaching a wide audience in the audience every season, and puts its signature to the establishment and development of universal classical arts in our country with determination and effort.

DOBGM, Annual Report, 2019

Figures related to representation and reach can give a more concrete idea:

SeasonNumber of SeatsNumber of ShowsNumber of Audience (Thousand)
2013 201410.288830400
2014 20156.398759337
2015 20166.398685273
2016 20176.398684281
2017 20185.970648293
2018 201911.672614322
2018-2019 [Paris]1.979513780
TURKSTAT, Opera, Ballet, Orchestra, Choir and Ensemble Statistics, 2019, Turkey

Do not be surprised that the number of seats doubled in the 2018-19 season, the number of seats in the festivals is also included in the table.

The statistics of the Paris Opera are valid for 25-65 years old. The population representing this group in our country is 42 million. Making inferences with the number of seats and performances will give erroneous results because people do not participate according to the size of the hall and the number of shows.

With a population of 2.1 million, Paris created 780.000 opera and ballet audiences, marking a massive 37% turnout. In our country, this rate is 1%. (42 Million / 322.000 spectators)

How Do They Succeed?

Some indicators in the annual report of the Paris Opera are not published or followed in our country. One of the most important of these is the production numbers. They have a total of 2018 productions in the 2019-37 season. Of these, 23 opera (11 new!) and 14 ballet (8 new!)

When I browse our programs, the works I watched in 2010,11,12…Looking for a Tenor, Murat 4, Harem etc.) I see it's still in the repertoire. Do we get results with new works? Yeah. The piece “Troy” reached 6.000 spectators with its two performances at the Ankara Congressium Stage.

Age groups, another indicator, are very important for management. The strategy should be determined according to this indicator. 2018 of the 2019 spectators hosted by the Paris Opera in the 780.000-62.000 season are between the ages of 25-34. The 35-50 age group participated with 132.000 people.

It is very important and easy that this follow-up is carried out in our country, because brokerage firms that make ticketing transactions collect valuable information from their members.

Budget

Contrary to what is expected, money is not everything in culture and art projects. It is a highly influencing factor, but its results are not certain.

The State Opera and Ballet has a budget of 2019 Million Liras in 375. This amount %82(308 Million TL) of personnel expenses.

The Paris Opera's budget for the same period was € 230 Million, approximately 1.5 Billion Liras (2019 average €/TL rate of 6,35) This figure is exactly 4 times our budget. So does it affect the result? If this figure were our budget, would the number of viewers increase 4 times? Unfortunately no.

Our 2017 budget is 278 Million TL up 36% It rises to 2019 Million in 378. Increase in our viewership %10.

The key to this financial paradigm is resource usage. In simple terms, where you spend the money given to you is more important than the amount of money given.

Staff costs 82% of Opera and Ballet budget. The rate in Paris Opera is 66%. The total number of personnel of Bizim Opera is 3.281, while that of Paris Opera is 1895.

The amount they allocated to investment in 2019 is € 18.3 Million. With € 12 million of this money, they modularized the stage and earned € 8.5 million in revenue with the new performances they staged in accordance with this feature.

I can't pass without mentioning the pandemic conditions. Again in 2019, € 2.1 million digital infrastructure investment was made. The fact that this business was undertaken 1 year before the pandemic shows that risk management and long-term trends are analyzed correctly.

The 2018 audit report of the Court of Accounts summarizes our situation: “An internal control system project including central units for Control Activities and Information and Monitoring components was carried out, but no study could be conducted on Risk Management and Monitoring components”

TCA Audit Reports and My Comments

"Another World", whose opera was written by Selman ADA, who is the General Manager of the State Opera and Ballet and the Chairman of the Art Board, in Istanbul, "Blue Dot" in Izmir, "Ali Baba and 40" in Aspendos, Antalya, Mersin and Ankara, "Love" -I Satisfied”
108.620,00 (including taxes) royalties were paid to the person concerned by performing it as a representation in Samsun.

The staging of related works composed by the Deputy General Manager; It was evaluated that it was put into the repertoire by the Art Board, of which he was also the chairman, and that it was approved by the General Directorate and entered into force, and that the fees to be paid to the works were determined by the Copyright Board under the chairmanship of the Deputy Director appointed by him.
2015 Audit Report

my comment: Art is a labor and of course it should be paid for, but its method and application can always be discussed. The conclusion and warning of the Court of Accounts is extremely justified. I see no need to write more about this finding.


For 20 pianos under the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet Directorate, instead of the Institution's piano tuners, services were purchased and made by a private company for tuning maintenance, twice a year for all pianos and 2 times a month for 6 pianos, for a total of 4. It was seen that a payment of 39.563,00 TL was made.

It is not acceptable to tune pianos every week. When the State Opera and Ballet other Provincial Directorates need piano tuning, tuning is done. It should be done when tuning is needed for 20 pianos within the body of the Istanbul provincial directorate. Public Resources were not used effectively and efficiently by tuning every week.
2017 Audit Report

my comment: It is not an acceptable situation. Couldn't investment be made for digital infrastructure instead of this extravagance?


in Mersin State Opera Ballet; Although there are Contracted Personnel working in the lute (playing, repairing) staff, it has been observed that a total payment of 22.197,00 TL was made by purchasing services for the repair and maintenance of Violin and Double Bass.

In response to public administration; The double bass player of our institution …….. He has verbally declared to the Orchestra Directorate that his double bass is in bad condition since 2015 and requested that a new instrument be purchased. In response to this demand, the Orchestra Directorate conducted research to purchase new double basses in 2015 and 2016. Pöllmann branded German made double bass was 33.000.- Euro and could not be purchased due to lack of budget. Our institution is Lutiyesin ……. was interviewed for the repair of the instrument, but he said that he could not make this double bass playable with his facilities in the workshop, because the repair work of the double bass was too long and the workshop facilities were insufficient.

Repair and maintenance of string instruments such as Violin, Double Bass etc. should be done primarily by the Lütiye staff of the Institution. In the interview with the person concerned, it was also stated that he was not aware of such a repair and maintenance. If Lutiya did not have the tools and equipment to repair the violin and double bass in question, these needs should have been provided immediately.
2017 Audit Report


my comment: It's insane. Shall we record a concert or play in an orchestra? It's a hit that there is no budget on the side for a double bass of € 33.000 (approximately 150.000 TL)! The luthier's "I don't know" response would have opened an investigation abroad and could have ousted the director from his seat. Another attempt at extravagance has been thwarted by "incompetence".


Conclusion and Recommendation

Opera Stage in Ankara has a seat capacity of 621 and Leyla Gencer Stage has a capacity of 665 seats.

The capital, which has a total capacity of 1.951 seats, staged an average of 2016 shows per season in the 2019 seasons between 3 and 142. An average of 80.000 people attended these performances. That's 560 spectators per show. A new production “Troya” was staged at Ankara Congressium. It reached 6.000 spectators with only two performances. 3000 people per show!

This means that the management now say goodbye to the old repertoirecost and new productionsIt needs to speed up. I remind you that Troy also makes use of TV commercials! For Opera and Ballet productions TV ads should be continued.

According to the 2019 report of the TCA, there are a total of 80 computer operators in the Headquarters. According to the 2020 performance program data, the institution has 585 desktop computers, 253 laptop computers and 192 cameras! So why still digital infrastructuredon't we have? In the light of the findings I shared above, instead of directing resources to ridiculous expenditures, it is necessary to establish a digital infrastructure immediately. I would like to remind you that this investment has nothing to do with the pandemic and should be made with a vision that will take the practices abroad as an example – such as the Berlin Philharmonic.

Finally, I think that the measured statistics should be expanded. The audience statistics included in the report of the Paris Opera can be taken as an example. For example, the number of participants under the age of 24, ticket purchase methods, the number of people who attend once and the number of spectators who come regularly, etc.

Our reporting system also needs to change immediately. As much as possible, data that can be studied should be included instead of unnecessary information. Even if you don't have a foreign language, you can find the Paris Opera's 2019-2020 season report. here I ask you to open it by clicking on it, and pay attention to the aesthetic setup from visual arrangements to the presentation of statistical data. Here When you click, you can review our 2019 annual report. The difference is there, isn't it?

I know that we are a society that loves the old texture, and the strength of our ties with our history. The modular stage investment made by Paris Opera is a great vision for the future. It provides space for the creative team. Our buildings, which carry the spirit of the old, should be preserved in the best way, but a new opera house is now a must. It is not possible to build such a large building inside the existing scenes.

Reform is possible not with money, but with ideas. The numbers show the direction, let's follow.


Resources:

-Giuliani, “Le Public et el repertoire”, 47-48
-James H. Johnson, Listening in Paris: A Cultural History, 1996
-State Opera and Ballet Gen. Manager Annual Reports: 2015-2019
-State Opera and Ballet Gen. Manager Performance Program: 2020
-State Opera and Ballet Gen. Manager TCA Audit Reports: 2015-2019
-Paris Opera Season Reports: 2015-2020

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