View From the Desk: Part 1

Single tickets went on sale yesterday and Madama Butterfly is just around the corner. Still, rehearsals haven’t started and the artists are not yet here, so the bulk of Madison Opera activity right now is confined to our Monroe Street office. We promised behind-the-scenes access from both “administrative and artistic perspectives,” so here goes with the view from the desks of a few Madison Opera staffers at this point in the pre-season:

  • Lauren, our Office Manager, says it perfectly: “This is definitely the calm before the storm, and I use the term ‘calm’ very loosely.” Right now, she’s busy issuing and mailing contracts to artistic and production personell and making travel arrangements for those same people. She’s also compiling Madison Opera Chorus information for the upcoming season, preparing a mailing for our Student Matinee (which isn’t until May!), and getting a contact list together for an upcoming community project we’re going to host (stay tuned for more on this, it involves origami!). On top of these big tasks, some of Lauren’s day to day activities include press clippings, archiving files, and answering all inquiries to the office by phone or mail. She’s also our Office Depot liason.
  • Natalie is our Patron Services Manager, which essentially translates into tickets, tickets, tickets. She’s just completed the massive task of mailing out around 650 ticket orders at the close of our season subscription period, which lasted from April until now. In the weeks to come she’ll be handling group sales, complimentary tickets, gift certificates, and any other non-single ticket type of purchase. Our tickets are physically printed at the Overture Center, so she checks in there pretty regularly. With the subscription period over, she says she’ll also be helping out the development dept. with organzing our opening weekend celebration.
  • As for me, well, I’m writing this blog for one thing, and also managing our new Facebook and MySpace pages while communicating with our website monitor regularly on various updates to make. September was a busy month, with four press releases going out and planning the season’s marketing campaigns, which has entailed meeting with various ad reps around town and mapping out placement schedules. I also sent out my first E-blast through Patronmail last week, a program that was time consuming to figure out the first time around, and I’ve been working with Gen. Dir. Allan Naplan on launching our High School Apprenticeship Program. This past week I’ve been firming up the details of our “A Night at the Opera” event and publicizing that to local community groups. The weeks to come will involve quite a bit of correspondence with our ad designer and local ad reps, ensuring Butterfly is getting proper attention in the local media, reviewing HS apprentice applications, and organizing and editing all of the content for our Butterfly program.

The expanded season and growing number of outreach initiatives and special events surrounding Butterfly are all cause for great excitement, and it’s been great to come into this new position with so much to do. It only gets busier from here, as this is the not-so-calm “calm before the storm!”

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Benjamin Taylor

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