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In a nod to social media, opera houses set aside 'tweet seats'

December 07, 2011|By Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times

Whip out your cellphone and start tweeting at a rock show and nobody will notice — other concertgoers are probably shooting cellphone photos anyway. But try that at the opera and you'll be glared at — unless you're in a "tweet seat."

A tweet seat is one that has been approved by an opera house for someone who would like to tweet about a performance. Although relatively unknown, they appear to be a growing trend.

Tweet seats started surfacing in the late 2000s. In 2009, the Lyric Opera in Kansas City, Mo., reserved 100 tweet seats for its final performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore." In those seats (and only those seats) audience members could use their phones to view tweets from the theater's artistic director about the production, the scenery and whatever was happening onstage. Audience members were also encouraged to tweet questions in real time.

Twitter-friendly seats have since been adopted by others, including the Carolina Ballet in Raleigh, N.C., the Dayton Opera in Dayton, Ohio, and the historical Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn., according to a USA Today report.

And tweet seats may be coming soon to Broadway. Jennifer Tepper, the director of promotions for "Godspell" on Broadway, told USA Today that the production definitely intends to use them.

If you find the idea of tweet seats hard to swallow, don't despair. The next time you go to the symphony, the orchestra will almost certainly not be accompanied by your neighbor desperately tapping at her phone.

Tweet seats are generally reserved on one side of an auditorium to keep the cellphone glare from distracting non-tweeting audience members. At the Dayton Opera, tweet seats are available only on certain nights.

deborah.netburn@latimes.com

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