Gramophone Online quotes Tony Hall, chief executive of the ROH, describing the purchase as "revolutionary," adding, "No other opera house has ever done anything like this before."
The ROH believes the acquisition will help the company reach out to new audiences for opera and ballet — and to make a profit, thus providing additional revenue for the opera house as a whole. "Let me be clear," he said (quoted by Gramophone) at a Covent Garden press conference, "this is a commercial venture. We're doing this to make money."
The ROH will manage Opus Arte "at arm's length," representatives say; Hans Petri, who founded the company in 2000, will continue in his post as managing director. The purchase of the label was paid for from a reserve fund for infrastructure and capital projects; about Ô£5 million now remains in that fund.
Opus Arte's DVD catalogue currently includes about 140 titles, principally opera and ballet productions and classical concerts from various international venue, among them the Royal Opera House itself as well as the Glyndebourne Festival, the Teatro Real (Madrid), the Op_ra national de Paris, the Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona) and the Netherlands Opera. The label also has regular relationships with such broadcasters as the BBC, TVE (Spain) and Bavarian Radio and Television to release selected productions from those networks.
Future plans reportedly might include movie theater broadcasts, video-on-demand, pay-per-view and other forms of new digital media. The ROH has already installed an in-house high-definition audiovisual recording facility; Opus Arte, said Hall, "completes our broadcast capability from recording through post-production, packaging to worldwide distribution. We will be able to forge ahead with delivering high-quality opera and dance both from our own and from our European and international colleagues into the market place with immediate effect."
According to Reuters, Hans Petri said that too frequently money and art are viewed as strange bedfellows. But Opus Arte has proven that view to be erroneous, he added, saying, "This increases the seat capacity of opera houses around the world by adding the seats in people's living rooms."