By RONALD BLUM
Carnegie Hall is launching an on-demand video network that features recorded performances of classical artists known for performing at the famed venue.
Carnegie Hall+, created in a partnership Unitel, was to launch Wednesday night. It costs $7.99 monthly and is available through the Apple TV app and smart televisions, Roku, Amazon Fire and other devices.
Content includes operas from the Salzburg Festival and the Bayreuth Festival’s 1979-80 staging of Wagner’s Ring Cycle directed by Patrice Chéreau. Concerts and ballets are available, and featured performers include Luciano Pavarotti, Renée Fleming, Leontyne Price, Anna Netrebko and Jonas Kaufmann, and conductors Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, Georg Solti, Carlos Kleiber, Riccardo Muti and Claudio Abbado.
Carnegie executive and artistic director Clive Gillinson said the Hall began exploring a network about 15 years ago, initially as an audio-only project.
“It became very clear that the audio scene was saturated with very, very big players, so the focus went to the audiovisual,” he said.
Gillinson was introduced to Unitel by Lawrence Perelman, a consultant who became a co-founder of the network. Gillinson said a pair of Carnegie trustees contributed funds enabling the startup, and he projects the network will run on a break-even basis within 18-to-24 months.
The classical streaming marketplace already includes the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall, launched in 2008, and Met Opera on Demand, which began in 2012 and has 33,000 on-demand subscribers. Forced to stop performing during the pandemic, many organizations took to streaming on their own websites and various platforms, such as YouTube.
“There’s a lot of singular projects in the marketplace of organizations that are promoting and presenting their own work, but we felt we had the opportunity to create the destination in this area,” Gillinson said. “We bring the very best of everything from all around the world and present it here. We felt to transfer that into the virtual world would be incredibly compelling.”
Carnegie Hall+ will carry future performances from the Hall but has not decided whether they will be streamed live or as recordings. Relatively few events were recorded on camera because production costs in the U.S. have been higher than elsewhere. The focus at launch is on content rather than locale.
“It’s just as valid to have the Berlin Philharmonic from Berlin or the Vienna Philharmonic from Vienna on the virtual stage as it is to have them in Carnegie Hall,” Gillinson said. “There are no limitations on where you collect your content.”
Initial distribution is based on where Apple TV’s app is available in English, about 60 nations and territories led by the United States, Britain, Canada, Ireland and Australia.
Other genres of music could be added later.
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