Despite the frequent call for a strengthened customer orientation in performing arts organizations, no efforts have been made to investigate customer satisfaction in opera so far. The paper aims at filling this gap by suggesting a first integrative model of customer satisfaction in opera. This model integrates insights from both services marketing literature (i.e., general services marketing and performing arts marketing) and performing arts literature (i.e., music perception and theater studies). The model is tested in a field study interviewing 116 visitors of a public German opera house. Results reveal visitors' level of appraisal to be the main antecedent of their satisfaction, followed by their perception of the artistic quality, empathy/identification with the actors on stage, and recall from memory. Furthermore, differences within the audience regarding the relative importance of the antecedents of customer satisfaction in opera are investigated. Using gender and attendance frequency as segmentation variables, only minor differences are found, though. Managerial implications for opera marketing are discussed in conclusion. First, efforts in opera marketing should rather concentrate on the core service quality instead of the peripheral service quality. Second, professional opera companies may attract broader audiences if they focus on the emotional satisfaction of their customers. Third, since only minor and mostly insignificant differences between men and women, and occasional compared to frequent visitors are found, a need for further research to explore alternative segmentation variables in the opera context is identified.
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.