Playbill magazine, the world's largest publisher of theatrical programs, will sing a new song in the summer of 1999 when it begins servicing one of the world's most prestigious performing arts organizations, the Metropolitan Opera.
In time for the Metropolitan Opera's 1999-2000 season, which runs fall to spring, Playbill will publish house programs for all performances at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, including the summer 1999 engagement of the Kirov Ballet and, beginning in spring 2000, the annual New York season of American Ballet Theatre.
The first Playbills at the Met will appear with the Kirov Ballet engagement, June 28-July 10.
The world-famous venue at 65th Street and Broadway in Manhattan's Lincoln Center, was formerly served by publishing competitor Stagebill.
"It's a great honor to serve one of the world's eminent arts institutions," said Playbill president Philip S. Birsh. "The addition of The Metropolitan Opera to our national network offers advertisers a broader performing arts audience." Under the aegis of Playbill Classic Arts, the Met program "will be designed to reflect the unique image of this world-class opera company," said Clifford S. Tinder, publisher of Playbill Classic Arts.
The Metropolitan Opera joins the San Francisco Symphony as the most recent addition to the new Classic Arts Division.
The Met programs will offer several monthly features related to rotating repertoire, as well as program notes, synopses and production information. Articles "will generally focus on the one or two new productions opening each month," said Tinder.
During the regular Met season, September to May, monthly circulation will be 136,400.
"We're very excited to be going in this new direction, producing programs that are a departure from what we normally cover on Broadway," said Tinder. "We expect to be expanding into other major markets, with other top-quality performing arts organizations."
Playbill's presence at the Metropolitan Opera involves dozens of Playbill editorial, art direction and printing employees at its Manhattan headquarters and its printing plant in Queens, NY, said Tinder. In order to accommodate the unique nature of opera's rotating repertory and changing casts, Playbill magazines for the Met will be printed the day before each performance, assuring the most up-to-date information, he said.
Founded in 1884, Playbill now publishes programs for virtually all Broadway and Off-Broadway venues in New York City and major theatres in markets that criss-cross the country: San Diego to Boston, San Francisco to Palm Beach, Philadelphia to Houston, and more.
Since 1996, Playbill has expanded its program publishing network to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, DC., South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Arizona and California.
Currently, Playbill's average national monthly circulation is nearly 2.7 million. In New York City alone, Playbill's monthly circulation is 1.2 million.
-- By Kenneth Jones