#Operaplot 2010 Feedback Form

Hello #Operaplotters,

It turns out #operaplot withdrawal is a real, medical condition, so you can definitely get a doctor’s note and take a few days off work. You’re welcome.

While you’re wandering listlessly around the Interwebs vaguely wondering how you will continue living without a plotting outlet, perhaps you could take a few moments a share your stories and what you thought worked and didn’t work about this year’s contest. If you’d rather not do it in public, drop me a line.

Stories: Mostly I’m just curious. Did you get an #operaplot idea in the middle of a meeting, dream about it, find yourself talking about the contest to people who couldn’t possibly be interested?

Questions from me:

Twitter: I’m always uneasy with Twitter being a barrier for to people who want to participate. Last year entries through the OM were allowed and about 10% of the total came from there.

The reason for making it Twitter only this year was primarily social. How important is this to you and how much less fun would it be to have the whole comp off Twitter?

Friends – It seems to me that #operaplot is great place to meet friends and functions kind of like a reunion. Is that the case?

Prizes: This year there are 5 main winners and likely 3-5 runners up. How important is winning (be honest). Are the low odds off-putting or does it not really matter in the end?

Orphans: Identifying the operas is a lot of work but also a lot of fun (for me at least). What do you think about the orphans? Fun/a drag? Should I spend some time finding a better way to identify the plots?

Checking Entries: On a scale of 1-10, how big of a pain was this? Any thoughts on how to make it easier?

Book: This is an idea I’ve been sort of kicking around. Would you be interested in a hard copy of all the 2010 plots? If yes in what format (paperback/hardcover) and how much would you be willing to pay for it?

It would be the plots, the participating houses, an essay from me, perhaps some words from the judge. Basic but beautiful at somewhere around 100-150 pages.

It there is enough interest, then I’ll get to work.

Anything else: It’s looking like this contest might be a permanent fixture. To make it better, I need to hear from the people that use it….namely you. I’m happy to hear whatever you have to say, so get to it!

Here’s to #operaplot 2011!

Miss M

2010 Winners | 10 Jonas Kaufmann Disc Winners | Side Pot Winners | 2010 Entries (starting at A)

2010 Prize Pool | 2010 Rules & FAQ | Judge: Jonas Kaufmann | 2010 Press Clippings | A Message From Jonas | #Operaplot Art Gallery | #Operaplot 2010 Feedback Form

2009 Winners | 2009 Entries | How To Use Twitter | How To Follow #Operaplot On Twitter


  1. Stories
    Yep – for my first one I wrote it before the competition began and set it as a reminder in my Outlook calendar so that when I was sat in a project discussion my laptop beeped, and I said “Excuse me I have to tweet an opera plot summary”. My colleagues looked bemused, but I got the first entry :-)
    I’ve also had some negative sighs, from my daughter and from Facebook friends who are utterly perplexed by the week’s status updates (I have them automagically gleaned from twitter).

    I think keep it twitter – it’s part of the texture of the thing. But it could be a barrier. Some folk think of opera as cliquey, and some folk think of twitter that way too, so we’re at the intersection of two (albeit huge) cliques.

    Too right. I found last year’s #operaplot soon after starting twitter so my twitter friends are skewed towards music. I like that :-)

    The low odds are fine, it’ll make it that much more awesome when I win in a few days time. I also like the side prizes (e.g. the ENO ones for #operaplots from their coming season) as it gives the international competition a local vibe.

    Definitely fun, it gives us a thrill to spot an esoteric one, or a laugh to slip through a famous one with no one identifying it.

    Checking Entries:
    You could get someone to build you an #operaplot tool using the twitter API. I’ve some thoughts on that but I need to think a bit more.

    I’d be interested, but it’d have to have more in it. Perhaps photos, bios, and #operaplot anecdotes from the key posters, and some photos of operas themselves, and perhaps we could put some information visualizations in (wordle tag clouds, graphs of opera popularity, etc.)

    Anything else:
    Permanent would be wonderful – it’s a highlight of my twitter year.

  2. Twitter: Yes, keep it Twitter. The “Retweets” are particularly fun to see.

    The social aspect is fun. I’m now following a few peeps that contributed some of the best entries, and it was nice hearing from some others as well.

    Friends: Well…yes, “internet” friends (like “facebook friends”)…ie: people whose sense of humor I enjoy and respect. However, I won’t be having dinner with any of them anytime soon, I don’t suspect.

    Prizes: WINNING IS EVERYTHING! jk. I won’t deny that Ireland trip was a HUGE lure. However, just getting in the top 5 or 8 would be amazing…honestly, all I’m aiming for is to be a legend in the operatic stratosphere. ;-) Aside from that, the fun of it would be worth it too…should those prizes go away. But, currently I’m dreaming of shamrocks!

    Orphans: I really think there should be an online list posted before the contest that has all the opera names numbered, from like 1 to 700, or whatever. THEN, all we’d have to do is input a number at the end of our entry. I didn’t find the identification fun, personally…it more worried me that mine wouldn’t land in the right place before J.K. sat down with his coffee and iPhone to start judgin’.

    Checking Entries: (See above thoughts.)

    Book: Nice idea for those less tech savvy. I already copied out my favs and included them on my blog, as did some others. If there were some other strong benefit, I might consider it…ie: a centerfold of J.K. ;-) ;-)

    Anything else: SEE YOU NEXT YEAR! I’d lower the max to 15 or 20. 25 is getting to be a bit much, I think. One should easily be able to nail it in 15 or so.

  3. Chickenfeet2003

    I’m a first timer but I’m a sucker for word games so I thought I’d give it a go. If I had realised how high the standard was I would have done more polishing ofmy early entries. Mostly I got an idea out of “nowhere” and then spent some time to work it up. If I was doing it again I’d be more structured.

    I like Twitter for this. Means I get to see what’s happening in more or less real time.

    A good source for new opera savvy on-line friends.

    I was well started before I realized there were prizes! A prize would be nice but honest;y it’s a lot of fun anyway.

    I enjoyed them as puzzles.

    Checking Entries:
    No problem.

    Probably not. The quality of the entries is pretty uneven and I’m not sure they are all worth preserving for posterity.

  4. After the first small scale contest (March of 2009), I thought the second bigger version (April 2009) seemed like a crazy idea. And it was great! Then I thought doing it again this year was overkill. And it was GREAT!! So what do I know?

    Anyway, I love the real-time Twitter aspect, although as dumbledad suggests, it probably wouldn’t be that hard to set up an effective online entry form that sent plots directly into the Twitter stream. Operaplot has definitely shaped my Twitter social world more than just about anything else, so I’m most appreciative for that. For me, the prizes aren’t that big a draw other than that they surely help to get the ball rolling.

    I’d love to have the entries grouped into an online spreadsheet (via Google docs?) that would allow for easy sorting according to plotter, composer, opera, time of entry, etc. Not sure how easy that would be to set up, but I love the idea of having them all on one page. This would make it much easier for users to check their entries as well.

    The book idea is interesting – a possible model would be David Pogue’s The World According to Twitter (I have two entries in that book!), but that worked partly because it was edited quite a bit from what must have been thousands of entries – and it covers lots of different subjects. I would think you’d find it quite the task to track down permissions from everyone, etc, and to decide on which entries to use. Ultimately, I mostly read online anyway, so I’d prefer the searchable online database to a book. But, what do I know?

    Thanks again for your creative management of all this.

  5. Let’s see …

    My ideas came at me at random times. And one came and left before I could get it posted. I still say it was the winning entry!

    I prefer to have it on Twitter. Just because it limits it a bit. (I also think you might want to go back to having only 10 or 15 allowed; we all go a bit crazy, no?)

    I’ve connected with a few folks due to #operaplot, but I’m not sure if they think of me as a friend or not.

    As to prizes … I actually don’t think about ’em. I rarely win prizes. And the one time we won a “biggie” (a trip to Sun Valley) we couldn’t even GO because of our schedules. So mostly I think “Gee, if I win anything will I eve get to use it?!” Of course if I COULD use it, that would be incredibly cool.

    I love the orphan thing. Keep it.

    To check entries I merely searched on “pattyoboe” and there I was. It was easy.

    I don’t really buy books these days. I’m trying to minimize “stuff” in my house and life. So I’d probably not buy one, truth be told.

  6. Stories – lying in bed, on the bus, here and there. A great mind work out for those quiet moments.

    Twitter – I think Twitter is perfect – so epigrammatic and so open. I’d support going back to 10 or 15 plots. Just your best please.

    Friends – I’ve loved meeting all those opera nutters out there. Makes me feel a normal. And they’re all pretty lovely people as far as I can tell. Don’t know if I’ll be out partying with them, but would certainly ask advice / run ideas by them. A useful (and fun) network.

    Prizes – I’m in it for the glory, not the prizes. But I wouldn’t say no to chocolate.

    Orphan think is great – only criticism is it is too addictive.

    Book – I’m with Patty and Chicken Feet.It’s an ephemeral thing, and quality is inevitably uneven. But I’d love to read your story / thoughts about the whole competition, with highlights, photos etc. Be a brilliant piece for Opera Magazine or the like.

  7. Twitter: I liked having it localized to Twitter—helps to maintain the social/conversational aspect, and is the reason the length limit isn’t just an arbitrary number.

    Friends: The social aspect of this was a significant part of the allure for me, both last year and this. It was nice to have such a large portion of our community talking about one thing for a whole week.

    Prizes: I’d be lying if I said winning didn’t motivate me. The low odds definitely have the potential to de-motivate, although I don’t think there’s a way to mitigate that, aside from lowering the entry limit substantially.

    Orphans: The orphans process isn’t tough at all, especially if everyone knew that it was their responsibility to see that their name didn’t show up on the list (by way of understanding that their entries wouldn’t be passed on to the judge until they were categorized).

    Checking Entries: Kind of a pain, isn’t it? More so for Miss M than for us, though. Maybe we could send follow-up tweets with first few words, #operaplot, and opera title, to help the process?

    Book: I’m not totally sure I’d be into the book idea, but perhaps, for the greater good (the annual promise of #operaplot), I’d pay, say 10 USD or so.

    Anything Else: 10 was too few, I think, and 25 may have been too many… but somewhere between 15-20 may be a sweet spot. 3-4/day seems to be a reasonable limit to maintain quality and not just senseless verbal vomit. :) It may keep some people from tweeting until near the end, but not as drastically as would a limit of 10. So.

  8. Michael, my API suggestion was more a tool for our Omniscient Mussel to use to quickly categorise #operaplots, rather than one for people to use to enter them. I think people have their favourite twitter clients already, but the task of cutting-and-pasting tweets, usernames, and tweet URLs from twitter, categorising them, and saving them to a spreadsheet could be easier with a tailored tool.

  9. Miss Mussel

    Thanks for all your comments so far everyone. I’m happy to say that no one has said anything unexpected only because that means I can trust my instincts a little more.

    Re: Twitter API – what would be ideal is a piece of code that would deliver the data from twitter search into .txt form, so I could put it straight into Excel or a text editor. I think a lot of the missing Tweets were simply copying errors.

    Also a problem this year was the length of the Twitter takes to index tweets from people with new accounts. That was frustrating for a lot of new people because they felt like they weren’t taking part fully.

    I’m not so keen on the Google Docs thing for a variety of reasons but perhaps there is a way to organize things more efficiently for searching through the entry lists.

    All under consideration for sure.

    Re: the book. I’m not feeling a simple repackaging of the the plots much either. I have other ideas but they’ll take a bit to work out. Whatever happens, I’m make sure I do my best to include Jonas for the centre-fold ;)

  10. A tool to read all the tweets tagged #operaplot and save them to a txt file would be easy to write (assuming your PC based, I’m not familiar with other platforms). It would be straightfoward to include the authors twitter name and the URL back to the original tweet. We can talk over email if you want.

    It might be possible to get around the newbie problem with an additional account. Have everyone entering the competition follow an account called operaplot and be sure to reciprocate such follows, then the tool could just read the entire friends timeline for the additional account, and sift out the tweets tagged #operaplot. At least, that’s one way.

  11. Stories: I just keep running opera titles through my head until something stikes. If I find that having thought of a line or an idea that I giggle quietly to myself, then I am off and running. There, wasn’t that helpful? ;)

    Twitter: Absolutely! For me, somehow that is an absolutely essential element. If it were in any other medium then there would be no real reason to have a 140 character limit.

    Friends: Last year I made a bunch of friends because of the competition and I have already met some new folk this year.

    Prizes: I don’t see that the odds are that long, really. You have, what, fifty prizes for a thousand entrants? Them’s pretty good odds.

    Book: My first thought was “Hmm. I can’t see many people shelling out cash for it” but then I realised I would also have doubted many people would enter the contest in the first place and we can all see how right I would have been about that so…

  12. Irene Vartanoff

    I just had fun with this. Of course my first plot idea was of my favorite opera. I agree with others that if I had known the quality of other entries beforehand, I might have polished mine more. Then again, since I did not expect to win anything and was not trying particularly hard to win either, it didn’t really matter anyway. If you allow fewer entries next year, you’ll have less work and so will the judge, which is the serious consideration. You’re the only one who gets to make that call.

    The one aspect I found disconcerting was that despite e-mailed correction attempts, some of my entries seemed to remain attributed to the wrong operas, and there was one (sort of) attributed to me that I did not write. I realize that this was a ton of work for you, and mistakes happen. I like the number list idea, but some of us need every character possible for our operaplot tweets.

    Twitter was an instant feedback loop. Entries that were retweeted obviously were popular, although they made for confusing reading. I’d say keep this on Twitter.

    • Miss Mussel

      Hi – Irene

      Thanks so much for your comments.

      I find not being able to update corrections quickly frustrating as well. Everyone works hard on their tweets and it’s not so great to see it languishing somewhere it isn’t meant to be.

      At the moment, it’s just a time issue. I have all the updates on a spreadsheet but when deciding between updating to the site or doing press etc, for now the press wins out.

      Next year there will likely be some sort of automated transfer from Twitter, so that cuts out a lot of manual mistakes and reduces the time needed to process everything.

      Thanks for telling me about this though…I’m sure you weren’t the only one feeling this way.

      All the best for the judging,

  13. Stories: It’s addictive all right! Ended up at 5am in an airport terminal pulling the laptop out not for work as I should have but to giggle in front of the screen laughing at my own thoughts. Went to bed thinking plots and woke up thinking plots, all to the music sounding in the background of my mind. Once you get going it is hard to stop! :-)

    Twitter: Hm, it’s convenient :-) And makes the whole constraint of shortness real fun for the game, but per se not for me, not one for shortened communication. Not a medium I’d use principally to communicate with friends. I find long, extended written or oral communication much more satisfying. For me it is more a tool to quickly communicate practical stuff, like txting, meeting, sharing bits of information like articles and such.

    Friends – Possibly, why not? At least you share common interests and info. Not sure that necessarily leads to new friends, guess it depends how intensively you use it and how in touch you are with other twitters. I do wonder however what people do who have the time to be constantly connected ;-)

    Prizes: They’re a nice bonus but not what drives it I think. I still remember the laughs I had last year reading the plots; same thing this year. Reading and thinking up your own is the real fun! Prizes are still important though, as they show this is an interesting event and that loving opera and being obsessed with it is IN and can attract attention :-) And that contrary to general opinion it is not for the elites and the older audience ;-) Besides, it is a positive circle: the bigger the involvement, the bigger the attention, the nicer the prizes, the more popular the game, etc :-)

    Orphans: Great work! And thanks to everyone who made sense of them! Assigning the operas is half the fun and makes going back to the list and reading through them subsequently more interesting. However, I would not have given the judge everything nicely assigned beforehand:-) It kind of took the fun away of him having a go himself at figuring them out ;-) Also, I think extra points of creativity belong to those who managed to scrunch the plots up but still make the opera instantly recognisable :-) And that effect is spoiled a bit if you know beforehand what opera it is.

    Checking Entries: The twitter search was at times painfully slow… and maybe reducing it to 10-15 tweets each is not a bad idea, less is more and all that :-)

    Book: I like the on line register that I can go back to on the go; would be nice if we could keep next editions on line too.. I’d love to read what people think of the game though, participants, organisers, opera houses, prize donors, judges, etc whether in a book, magazine or on line :-) But since we all came to this because we are online for more time than is good for us ;-) I think we are unlikely to stuff a book into our laptop bags to carry around :-)

    Hm, thinking about it.. you know what I would love? How about instead of written articles we had audios? Interviews, opinions, the lot! Now those I could definitely carry around and listen to on the go!

    2011- hope the twitter delay problems can be solved for next edition and for your own convenience they can provide you with some live feed to the page or similar. And if we could keep plot assignment to opera hidden? Ie visible on an additional click or so? I like the guessing game :-)

  14. I’ve made it my goal, wherever possible, to give some idea of the music itself in my operaplots, whether that’s punning references to style as in Wozzeck, or the musical “cues” in Kitezh, or the waltz reference in Merry Widow. That tack, of course, leads to thoughts of re-writing lyrics, which means you need a seriously familiar tune from said opera. Enter Gioconda. Needless to say, that one came to me in the shower.

    Twitter: Twitter is a good part of the fun and pleasure for me. It would a whole lot less fun and meaningful if it were off Twitter.

    Friends: Yes, you’re right on. I “met” many of my most fondly regarded tweeps via operaplot – it allowed me to discover many other like minds (aka wordie-nerdie-musical types). It was also the thing that helped me discover the real potential and fun of Twitter.

    Prizes: Winning is nice but not essential; it’s the fun of it that counts for me. The low odds are good, I think, because it makes any actual winning more meaningful and certainly very exciting.

    Orphans: Orphan-spotting is fun, although I felt strangely reserved about jumping in and identifying others’ plots. I kept thinking: I should give them more time to check for themselves. I would suggest that perhaps there could be a more convenient way of listing them and having others nominate the operas. The blog post/comment format isn’t well-suited to the task. My idea would be a widget that displays a plot, gives you a field in which to type an opera name and a button for Next/Pass, then displays the next orphan. The entries being collected behind the widget. (A bit like Kyle Gabler’s Human Brain Cloud.)

    Checking Entries: Not too much of a pain from my perspective. The only idea I have for making it easier is to share the burden of the work, thus:
    Create a Google docs spreadsheet with a form as the front end. After the official close of competition on Twitter but within a 24-hour window, if you actually want your tweets to be entered, then you go to the form and enter in four fields: your Twitter handle, your tweet, the url of your tweet from the Twitter timeline, the name of the opera. That way, everything is fed correctly into the spreadsheet and each of us has a small amount of data entry to do, while Miss Mussel can worry about the bigger picture. Including the Twitter URL would ensure that it was actually a valid entry from within the competition period. This scheme would, of course, deprive us of the Orphans.

    Book: As an Australian, the thing I’ve noticed with a lot of small print-run on-demand books (which I guess is what you’re imagining: Lulu, Blurb, etc.) is that the shipping is the killer, even when the book itself is modestly priced. I would probably be more interested in some kind of gorgeous digital production, maybe even a multi-media e-book than a printed book.

    While it’s true that quality is uneven, I think if you’re going to do a book like that then you should include every entry for which you can get permission. It’s not like they’re that long, and that way you ensure both a complete representation of the event as well as (says she pragmatically) maximum potential customers.

  15. Stories: Mostly I’m just curious. Did you get an #operaplot idea in the middle of a meeting, dream about it, find yourself talking about the contest to people who couldn’t possibly be interested?

    Yes, yes and yes! I woke up with an idea, talked about it at a meeting, and the person couldn’t have cared less,”That’s nice.” :O)

    Questions from me:

    Twitter: The reason for making it Twitter only this year was primarily social. How important is this to you and how much less fun would it be to have the whole comp off Twitter?

    I loved this twitter concept. It’s a great way to add buzz for the opera world and get us all connected at the same time! I’m hoping it generates new interest too.

    Friends – It seems to me that #operaplot is great place to meet friends and functions kind of like a reunion. Is that the case?

    Yes. It is a wonderful opportunity to find others just as crazy(about Opera).

    Prizes: This year there are 5 main winners and likely 3-5 runners up. How important is winning (be honest). Are the low odds off-putting or does it not really matter in the end?

    The fun was in coming up with the idea and sharing. I love a good laugh, and my fellow #operaplot(ters)did not let me down.

    Orphans: Identifying the operas is a lot of work but also a lot of fun (for me at least). What do you think about the orphans? Fun/a drag? Should I spend some time finding a better way to identify the plots?

    I thought you did pretty well! I was impressed. As long as people have a way to communicate if their entry was lost or misplaced, no harm, no foul.

    Checking Entries: On a scale of 1-10, how big of a pain was this? Any thoughts on how to make it easier?

    Maybe painful to you. I did have a lost entry, but took seconds to send in my comment. It’s all in good fun, right? Unless you want to set up an official database to capture entries, but that defeats the twitter route. You could ask people to post in both places though to be official. (???)

    Book: This is an idea I’ve been sort of kicking around. Would you be interested in a hard copy of all the 2010 plots? If yes in what format (paperback/hardcover) and how much would you be willing to pay for it?

    Go for it. Get permission though. Paperback – small book that fits in a purse, easy to take out for spur of the moment opera conversation. Maybe $5.99. Or you could save up a few years for a bigger collection at a bigger price.

    Only thing I would like to add as an audience development specialist is that #operaplot could be used to help the Opera orgs develop an audience. Perhaps add to the contest best plot for current operas that are happening around the world to boost awareness of these events. Perhaps some newbies will love the #operaplot so much they will take a chance and see the performances! Just a thought…

  16. Love Yvonne’s idea of a multimeda eBook. Imagine an iPhone/iPad app that lets you enter an opera or composer and pops up operaplots, maybe with links to Wikipedia opera summaries on the other end. No idea how hard that would be to create, but it would be awfully fun to have for browsing, would be cheap and maybe appealing to a wide variety of opera fans.

    I’ve been wondering, assuming the contest resumes next year, if the policy of allowing entries from previous years would continue. It is of course nice to get another chance to show off non-winners (a chance of which I maybe over-availed myself!), but if a nice online archives of previous years can be kept handy and easily searchable, maybe it’s better to keep old entries there and request only new entries. (Obviously, this would be an honor system thing, as Miss Mussel doesn’t need a new worry policing such a policy!)

    I could see it either way, and I suppose a tighter limit of 10 to 15 entries would help keep more of the entries new. I guess I’m just imagining Operaplot 2020 and someone such as me continuing to bring back oldies.

  17. NBrockmann

    I would like to see a “Competitor’s Choice” category of award, with each #operaplot entrant allowed to vote for, say, three (five?) entries from among the pool of their fellow competitors that they liked best. Sort of the Screen Actors’ Guild award of #operaplot. It should be limited to entrants only (rather than a larger “people’s choice” award open to all Twitterers, because that could easily lead to people with huge follow lists getting all their followers to vote for them and overwhelming people with small follow lists). No one would be able to vote for any of their own entries.

    With no disrespect to the winning entries, there were several entries from among my fellow competitors that I was very surprised not to see among the winners’ list. This category would allow #operaplotters to recognize entries that they thought were good, regardless of whether or not they appeared in the judge’s final list.

    I would also like it if in future years, the judge were to provide, along with the list of winners, the reasons each winning #operaplot was chosen. It would be nice to know what the judge was thinking.

    I am against the book idea. Also concerned about permission and intellectual property, especially if it becomes a money-making venture.

    • love the “competitor’s choice” idea!!! i think that would only begin once all entries are in (just as with the visiting judge), that way, all entries are created equal (so to speak). i think your idea is great, since there is such subjectivity to sense of humor, and that would add more breadth to the range of acknowledged entries.

      also LOVE your idea to include the reasoning from the judge!!!

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