Jackie Evancho didn’t show up Sunday night for her scheduled concert at the Saroyan Theatre. The promoter notified management at the Fresno Convention Center of the event’s cancellation on Friday afternoon by sending an email. But because city servers were down, that communication wasn’t received until Saturday, says Claudia Arguelles, director of sales and marketing at SMG. No news release was sent out.
I was on vacation at the time and was enjoying a digital-free couple of days, or I would have done more to spread word about the concert’s cancellation. As (bad) luck would have it, we timed a big Jackie story to run Sunday with her appearance — a lengthy essay in which I used the occasion of Evancho’s concert to dig into the meaty issue of the age-old divide between critics/academics and fans. The Spotlight section is prepared in advance of the Sunday paper and printed on Thursday nights, so there was nothing we could do other than note in the front section of the paper that the concert had been cancelled.
Why didn’t the concert take place? The reason given by promoter John Low: “production reasons outside the artist’s control.”
I have my suspicions. Ticket demand for the concert did not seem to be high. Weeks before the concert, the promoter had gone into deep-discount mode, offering 60% off through The Bee’s dealsaver.com website.
Weirdly enough, the otherwise proficient official Jackie Evancho website didn’t update readers about the concert cancellation until Monday, a day after the concert was to occur. I don’t know how many ticket holders actually showed up at the venue expecting to hear her sing, but it sure doesn’t seem the promoter made much effort to get the word out. I find it very odd that the sole way of letting a venue know that a concert involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket sales has been cancelled is by a quick email. Wouldn’t a phone call at least have been in order?
There’s a lively discussion of Evancho — it seems like there always is — and the Fresno cancellation on Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc blog at artsjournal.com. Some of the debate has to do with the timing. One reader writes:
The listing of the event was removed from her official website on Thursday the 14th, but fans weren’t notified of the cancellation until ticket buyers were alerted by the ticket agencies just two days before the concert was to occur.
My condolences to all those fans who spent their hard earned money travelling to Fresno, believing that the concert was still on. Apparently Jackie’s people who knew to remove the event from her site several days early didn’t know enough to show some consideration and give an early heads up to fans instead of letting them find out later from the venue and ticket companies, when for many it was too late. Unlike with the Loveland, Colorado concert that was cancelled earlier this month, such short notice prevented many from getting refunds on their travel expenditures since those services were already used by the time they were informed of the cancellation.
As for reaction to my column, which was circulated by Evancho fans, I did get some flack, which I expected. Some took particular offense for me suggesting that Evancho is marketed to audience. One North Carolina reader called me an “elite, pompous prig”:
Ms. Evancho is not “marketing” herself as anything other than a remarkably talented teenager. She nor her handlers promote her in any other way. In this she delivers in spades. Her poise, modesty and genteel demeanor are not a “package.” They are genuine. As in your first article you come across as mean spirited and short sighted. In other words, a douche nozzle.
That’s a new one to add to my list of Interesting Things I’ve Been Called by Readers.
By the way, in my column I quote a blog post by Washington Post classical music Anne Midgette in which she writes about the trend of disassociating all vestiges of an operatic aria’s original meaning or style. She calls the trend “crossover pseudo-operatic sound.” It’s an excellent read.
And if you want to watch and listen to the latest little-girl viral operatic sensation, here’s the much-viewed YouTube video of 9-year-old Amira Willighagen singing on “Holland’s Got Talent.” In the child singer ranks, even 13-year-olds could start feeling old.