Bust-up in Berlin over streamed opera

Bust-up in Berlin over streamed opera


norman lebrecht

September 09, 2014

The city’s culture secretary, Tim Renner, wants the opera houses to steam their work free on the internet as a recompense for public funding.

The German cultural council says free streaming would ‘damage the value of culture’.

They can’t both be right. There can only be one winner.

Renner, ex-music business, has the Zeitgeist on his side.

Read here (auf Deutsch).




  • Robert Garbolinski says:

    Well of course it should be free for a certain length of time after all they do free public live screenings – everyone on the internet should be also be given the chance as well.

  • Grant says:

    Even though it receives public funding, the company still needs to make money. Maybe make the telecast available after the season is over.

    • SVM says:

      Indeed; we do not get free electricity, despite government subsidy for the petrochemical, renewable, and nuclear industries (through tax breaks &c.)! Let us reserve our outrage for the genuine injustices: one need only look to the assorted taxpayer-subsidised monopolies that run the British railways.

  • DieterK says:

    When Renner (as the company’s CEO) moved the german branch of the Universal Music Group (UMG) from Hamburg to Berlin, Berlin paid (part of) the costs.

    Did the UMG offered its products for free because of the subsidy? I don’t think so.

  • May says:

    Renner seems to have an axe to grind that has little to do with opera, otherwise he’d realize that the costs involved in streaming opera plus the limited audience just don’t add up. Furthermore, opera doesn’t belong on the internet, it belongs in a theater where it can be experienced live. I can’t think of anything more demeaning to the art form than streaming. Every now and then I enjoy watching a televised production, which I normally wouldn’t be able to see live, however not every production is worth the hundreds of thousands of Euros required to broadcast it. I totally disagree with the statement “Zeitgeist on his side;” the brave plan of action would be focused on getting more people out and into the concert hall or theater – only convicts should be allowed to watch streamed opera.

  • Neil McGowan says:

    If the streams were not live, but released online after the theatre run had finished, the impact on box office sales might be considerably mitigated?

    I would welcome the chance to see what’s going on in Berlin… it’s not everyone who can afford to fly around the world to see operas 😉

  • Token young person says:

    They should try to do it. It would be a great resource for opera fans who aren’t in Berlin. I don’t know who would decide to stay home and watch an opera online instead of go if they had the chance. I think it’s safe to assume that most people are aware that watching an event online/on TV is not the same as being there live.

  • SVM says:

    Who would cover the costs associated with filming, mastering, balancing, editing, uploading, hosting, and providing end-user access to the internet stream? And who would cover the additional royalties elicited by the online broadcasting? I hope that Renner is not expecting the funding for all this to come out of existing budgets…

  • Anonymus says:

    How does this former media production professional expect the opera houses to shoulder the substantial production costs for live streaming?
    It costs money and you need great people in very specialized niche professions, to pull off such a task with a quality that it would be worth it.
    If you are going to stream your opera productions, it has to be first class quality.
    Because otherwise it is counterproductive. There is no point in doing it in a mediocre way, unless you want to destroy the art form.
    Also a certain exclusivity is essential for the perceived value of things, media pro Tim Renner should know that. The masses do never perceive something as valuable, that comes for free…