Playing the Numbers Game with Opera at Cowboys Stadium

San Francisco’s a heavyweight opera town. So it wasn’t that surprising when the opera company there drew 32,000 people to a 2010 simulcast performance at AT&T Park, where the Giants play baseball. But Dallas is a different town. So it was truly impressive-sounding when the Dallas Opera announced a free, April 28 simulcast on the high-def video screens at mammoth Cowboys Stadium and, in a March 1 press release, proclaimed that “over 21,000 tickets had been requested” already for the Magic Flute performance. Twenty-six days later, a nearly identical release went out bragging that the number of requests had now risen to more than 25,000! (exclamation point theirs). Then, on April 18, the Opera touted that the ticket figure was up to “30,500 and counting.”

So yesterday, when the Opera issued its post-game story, it was interesting to note that 15,000 attended Saturday’s performance — a figure qualifying nonetheless as “the best-attended opera stadium simulcast in Texas history,” to quote the release. (It was also 7,000 more than the SF Opera drew to AT&T, back when it started the simulcast event there in 2006.) The Dallas Opera release added that when all was said and done, 34,000 ticket requests had poured in, too! The Opera said it was “very pleased” with the 15,000 number, and Charlotte Jones Anderson, the Cowboys’ brand manager in charge of flogging JerryWorld as a fine-arts venue, added: “We are thrilled with the overwhelming response to last night’s performance.” Thrilled? Overwhelming? When they’d been bragging that more than twice that number would show up? That big giant whirring sound you hear is called PR spin, and nobody can spin it like the Joneses. As they like to say at the opera, Bravo!

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