Opera for sale on eBay
3rd Apr 2012
Ambitious opera aficionados wanting to stage shows on a giant scale might just have their moment, thanks to an opera producer in the Netherlands.
Peter Kroone, who’s retiring as CEO of Companions Amsterdam after 20 years in the business, has decided to sell off the full sets, costumes and props of four operas – on the auction site eBay.
From Aida’s wigs to the peasant garb of Carmen, as well as the equipment for Traviata and Nabucco, everything needed to stage the shows went up for grabs on the website earlier this month.
Companions Amsterdam’s trademark work dealt in 360° spectacles for mass stadium audiences. Kroone said staging such large scale pieces was exhausting; and after failing to find a successor to take over his role, he needed to cast his net wider.
‘It didn’t work to find someone inside our network,’ he told IAM. ‘So we thought, how do we find a needle in the haystack, the same type of crazy person as I was 20 years ago when I started this business.’
Kroone said eBay was a long shot, but to his surprise he got a good response from interested buyers around the world.
The listings started at just $1 (€0.75) and had a reserve price of 25 per cent lower than a price estimated by an auction house.
The list of articles for sale was extensive: the set for Aida included more than 200 wigs; costumes for soloists, chorus, and a host of supernumeraries; spears and shields and wagons; and 167 piano scores.
Kroone said that the sheer size of the productions – for Aida, eight 30ft containers worth of materials, props, costumes – means buyers have to know what they’re getting into.
Technical drawings showing how to assemble the sets were part of the deal; specific stage directions for the singers, choreography, and lighting design were not.
Bidding ended on 20 March with the reserve unmet, but Kroone added that making an actual sale was not the end goal of listing the productions but: ‘to draw people towards us who we haven’t found so far’.
While Kroone will consider buyers whose intention is to sell the operas off piece by piece, his priority is to sell to those with plans to really use the productions.
Discussions are now going on with several parties interested in closing the deal. ‘The buyers are all from the classical industry and are all looking to open opera up to broader audiences,’ Kroone said.