Epilogue: Scattering live from the opera

By Laura Grimes

Portland Opera's The Barber of Seville

Mrs. Scatter’s final thoughts and look back — and a chance to add what she missed before:

Forget coherence. Forget cohesion. Stutter and start is the only way to blog live about the opera. People talk and joke and all that is part of the cheerful scene, but forget trying to put two words together that make sense on the computer screen.

To read our meandering live blogs about the opera:

Mr. Scatter’s.

Mrs. Scatter’s.

Though it’s nice to make sense, frankly it’s icing on the cake when it happens because the whole point really is that it’s brilliant marketing on the part of the opera. It costs them a little staff time to arrange (but what’s a few e-mails), some flier bills describing the blogs and the peopleĀ  (which call us “prominent local bloggers” — elbow elbow), a bag of nuts (Mr. Scatter calls them salty), and a few glasses of wine (blog lubricant). So, really, for peanuts they get a buzz going in different directions among different people. Brilliant. You put on a show and you want people to see it. That’s just smart business.

Speaking of smart business. Portland Opera discussed group ticket prices with folks at Intel, who were willing to buy them for their employees. Intel sent a note throughout the company asking who was interested in attending The Barber of Seville. The opera figured they would be excited to get a few hundred people. The turnout was … get this … 950! And a long line of folks still didn’t get tickets. Great publicity for Intel, great for Portland Opera, and great for Intel employees. Businesses, take note!

Back to … the live blogging bit is not about insightful criticism, though that’s a hugely important part of the evaluation process for all art forms. Criticism is the measuring stick, the sounding board, the public discussion, the social context, the why-art-matters. It’s what every arts institution uses for grant proposals, media blitzes and ticket campaigns. It’s a key part of identifying who they are and how they’re doing. Simply put, it’s integral to their health.

The live blogging is a fun slice of cake. The back stage tour was informative and polite but when I pulled out JoJo for a group photo, someone asked if that was our mascot, and opera folks pulled out their own. That’s when the polite turned fun.

Here’s JoJo back stage on an opera prop (again):

JoJo on an opera prop

The opera’s Muffy the Mascot has been around since February 1989. Do the math — she’s old enough to legally drink. She’s been hidden on a variety of opera sets ever since — inside trunks, staircases, doorways. As one of the hands put it, “She was on the select meat cart in Miss Saigon.” I’m not sure what makes a meat cart select or otherwise.

Muffy is pretty mangey looking. The same hand said she had beans in her once. She got washed and then she sprouted.

Here’s Muffy the Mascot (again):

Muffy the Mascot

Not bad to think you can be full of beans and still sprout. Speaking of beans, as Mr. Scatter spilled previously, I’m headed to London tomorrow. I’m just a bit tweaked that he made it public, so I only mention it now because I can’t resist saying that my travels hinge on an ash cloud. Yes. I said ash cloud. Who says I’m not full of beans!

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