British media report that the Japanese electronics giant is sponsoring a production of La Bohme (a revival of Steven Pimlott's 1993 staging) which opens in London on February 22.
While Metropolitan Opera general director Peter Gelb wants to woo the uninitiated to opera, Sony hopes to tempt opera lovers to try something usually associated with bug-eyed teenage boys. The Guardian reports that the corporation's operatic endeavor is the latest in a string of artistic partnerships announced by Sony recently (including deals with the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Film Institute and Sadler's Wells) in an attempt to lure more highbrow fans to videogames.
The investment signals a shift in Sony's marketing strategy, which aims to widen the appeal of the PS3 console before its launch in the U.K. next month. Sony believes that as many affluent adults as children could be interested in the games machine, which has a hefty price tag of Ô£425.
La Bohme is being supported by a PlayStation branded website called Inside Out, at www.enoinsideout.org.uk. The site offers a virtual tour of the opera company and the chance to take online singing lessons. Sony is also reportedly paying for online broadcasts of the show itself.
Carl Christopher, head of sponsorship and events for PlayStation, told the Financial Times that the unusual ENO/PlayStation arrangement is a "perfect" union. "We come with a youth brand, they give us public access."
John Berry, the ENO's artistic director, was slightly less enthusiastic about the idea. Asked how he thought the opera elite might react to a PS3 in the Coliseum, he told the London Times, "I have absolutely no idea."