So you want to put on a grand opera – somewhere large and outdoorsy – but you don’t have the money for sets and costumes. (Are you listening, New York City Opera?) Well, now your worries are at an end. Because now, on eBay, you can buy complete productions, sets and all, of “Aida,” “Carmen,” “La traviata,” and “Nabucco,” plus costumes and props for a few more. Bidding starts at $1.
This is not a joke. Peter Kroone, a Dutch impresario, has been presenting opera in the round, mainly in Europe, through his company Companions Opera for 20 years. Having decided to retire, and failed to locate a successor, Kroone decided to put his productions on the open market.
Above: You, too, can own this “Aida.” No, not a DVD: you can really buy the whole production of “Aida” on eBay. Horses not included.
The eBay listings are specific, and extensive. The “Aida” production includes more than 200 wigs (“25 Rasta long”); costumes for soloists, chorus, and a horde of supernumeraries; spears and shields and wagons; and 167 piano scores. Technical drawings showing how to assemble the sets are part of the deal; specific stage directions for the singers, choreography, and lighting design are not.
Furthermore, the accompanying website specifies, “Not included in the sale are the artists, local requirements, nuts and bolts, etc.” Alas, those scouting eBay in hopes of purchasing a tenor will have to keep on looking.
Above: The Washington National Opera is doing “Nabucco” for the first time this spring. Little did they know how much they could have saved on costumes by buying them on eBay.
As of Monday night, there were no bids and the starting bid for each lot was listed at $1. There is, however, a hidden reserve, so no one can actually walk away with a trove of costumes for pocket change.
Kroone may have an easier time finding buyers for some of the costume-only deals: props and costumes, for example, for hundreds of singers and extras in “Turandot.” Many companies could conceivably put these to good use.
The sets, however, are not of much use unless you have an arena at your disposal; Companions Opera’s productions were staged for mass audiences of anywhere from 7,500 to 50,000. But City Opera could always look into using Central Park.
Act now! The auctions end on March 20.