As regular readers of this website know, the replacement of live music with recordings is not only affecting fans of Broadway; it has become increasingly common in the world of ballet. As we reported earlier this year, the Washington Ballet has been using recorded Tchaikovsky in their productions of The Nutcracker since 2009. Now another, even more pernicious case of recorded ballet has come to our attention.
Back in 2008, the Texas Ballet Theater began using recordings in place of the Fort Worth Symphony and the Dallas Opera Orchestra. Of course, the ballet company did not advertise this fact, hoping that audiences wouldn’t notice that they weren’t getting the bona fide live ballet they paid for. Worse, they also added insult to injury by outsourcing some of the recordings. Rather than having recordings made in the USA, they had a canned soundtrack for the ballet Cleopatra recorded by the orchestra of the National Ballet of China. For this, they paid $30,000 to the Chinese government – outsourcing both American jobs and our very culture. It is a sad sign of what symphony and opera management are willing to do for a few extra bucks. With some Broadway producers looking for any way to pad their pockets, could musical theater be far behind? Will we see a revival of Annie Get Your Gun performed to a CD stamped “Made in China”?
These growing threats to live music are the reason we must remain constantly vigilant. Over 20,000 supporters of preserving the tradition of live musical theater have joined with us on Facebook to help spread the word. Only an informed and empowered audience will dissuade producers and theater owners from resorting to these cheap maneuvers. That is why it is so important that you sign and share our petition to keep Broadway live. When producers know that the audience will ask “but is it live?” before buying tickets, they will think twice before using outsourced recordings.