Opera meets Twitter in Sky Arts campaign

The broadcaster has commissioned a ‘parallel narrative’ to market Mahagonny production

From left: actor Kevin Shackleton, Sky Arts manager Freya Murray, Maverick TV’s Claire McArdle and actor Liam Carney

From left: actor Kevin Shackleton, Sky Arts manager Freya Murray, Maverick TV’s Claire McArdle and actor Liam Carney

 

How do you market an opera on social media? For Sky Arts, which has funded Rough Magic and the Opera Theatre Company’s production of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, the answer lay in creating a “parallel narrative”, says Sky Arts manager Freya Murray. “It’s about utilising Sky’s platforms to bring the production to an audience in new ways.”

The Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht opera runs at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre from June 13th to 22nd after it emerged the winner of the Irish round of the Sky Arts Ignition programme. All €230,000 of the funding award goes on the production itself but, as part of the partnership, Sky Arts also promotes its investment.

Sky has commissioned Maverick TV to produce a series of online videos, blogs, tweets and photos that are all set in the debauched world of Mahagonny but form a separate story to the opera.

‘Hedonistic metropolis’

Actor Kevin Shackleton has been cast as aspiring travel writer Paul Gallagher, who is on a mission to find the “hedonistic metropolis” of Mahagonny and hunt for Kurt Furey (played by Liam Carney), the brilliant but unstable journalist he has been instructed to track down. Both characters have Twitter accounts (@KurtThe Furey and @PaulGallagher92) “to amplify the campaign”. The narrative can also be followed via the hashtag #OnlyInMahagonny and on sky.com/mahagonny.

Rough Magic was involved in the casting process, says Murray, while the marketing campaign’s narrative is “stylistically in keeping with the opera”.

Independent production company Coco Television is also producing four on-air promos and a behind-the-scenes documentary to promote the opera on the Sky Arts channel.

One of the main aims of the Ignition programme is “to inspire new generations to broaden their cultural horizons”, says Sky Ireland director of corporate affairs Mark Deering. Murray says the idea is that “as an audience you can delve deeper into the world of the opera”.

None of the three overall recipients of Ingition funding to date (the other two were UK-based gallery exhibitions) have been “hugely populist pieces” with ready-made audiences, she adds. “It’s about taking a risk.”