Sitting around a table enjoying happy hour with a couple of my brother’s friends, I casually mentioned that I had attended a performance of The Marriage of Figaro
and really enjoyed it. One friend, who I shall do the service of not naming, said “Anna, I didn’t realize you attended operas!” “Oh!,” I replied, “it’s one of the great perks of working at San Francisco Opera—I get to see every production we do!” “Wait,” he said, “you work
at the Opera?” He started laughing, and unfortunately continued: “I imagine you and seven other people crammed around a table sewing a bustier or something.”
This is the first time I realized that “glamour” wasn’t automatically associated with my job. I work in the marketing department and manage the subscription campaign, which (in a nutshell) means I sell packages of tickets to the operas in our season. Am I to understand that this does not seem glamorous? I do not sew, and I do not sing, I sell! I suppose I might concede that it lacks a certain sparkle, but we have a lot of fun, we all work very hard and, through our efforts, an amazing art form finds its audience.
We open our 90th season this fall, and although I am still in the midst of our campaign to sell subscription packages, I am increasingly focused on preparations for the 2013–14 Season. Beginning in June and through December, we prepare to announce the new season in January. Coinciding with that announcement is our invitation to subscribers to renew (that’s right—renew in January for a season that opens the following September).
[Anna holding the 2013–14 Season brochure cover design. We'll have to wait until January to see it!]
These summer months are my favorite of the year: we find out what the opera titles are, we wait for nuggets of information as to which productions we’ll stage, what directors we can anticipate, who the singers will be, and we coalesce all of this into a creative campaign that will form the basis for our efforts throughout the next year and a half. I’ll research images we can use, reviews of stars we will welcome, and I try to learn as much as possible about the operas themselves.
In addition to these creative elements, we also look at the schedule of performance dates so we can create the various subscription packages; we start putting together schedules (schedules for projects, schedules for mailing dates, schedules for emails, even our schedules have schedules); we set goals and we think about ways to make subscribing easy and flexible. To that end, we work a lot with our Box Office team, who represent some of the finest customer service professionals I have ever worked with (or purchased tickets from!).
[Anna holding some of her recent subscription brochures.]
While it is difficult to convey the amount of detail and strategy work involved in mounting a subscription campaign, I can tell you it’s easy to become bogged down in it day-to-day. I spend a lot of time reminding myself that it boils down to one very simple fact: it’s all about the thrill of opera! I sell an experience (ideally, multiple experiences neatly packaged), and the best thing I can do is make it easy for people to become excited about the breathtaking experience we offer. When I sit down in the War Memorial Opera House before a performance, I take in the atmosphere and think “you know, this job is glamorous.”