This case study describes how the Boston Lyric Opera (BLO), the largest opera company in New England, increased opportunities for families to experience the art form in hopes of developing future audiences. To that end, it turned its abridged operas, used in school programs, into high-quality family productions. BLO supplemented and promoted those productions with free scaled-down workshops at local libraries and other community venues.
Post-show surveys revealed the majority of adult attendees were opera fans who wanted to introduce their children to the art form, thus meeting two of BLO’s primary goals—providing children with their first experience of opera and creating opportunities for their busy parents to attend performances. Two of the venues, however, were in neighborhoods with few opera fans, creating the need to reach out to adults with little or no experience with the art form. While BLO’s efforts to engage members of this community were largely unsuccessful, the previews held at local libraries did attract a large percentage of first-time adult opera-goers. On average, 56 percent of adults at a preview had never attended a fully staged opera before, compared with 12 percent at the family performances.
This report is part of a set of case studies and reports looking at the efforts of arts organizations that received Wallace Excellence Awards to reach new audiences and deepen relationships with current ones.