Bringing Opera to the People

There is a lot of great opera being performed, but often it goes unnoticed by the masses. Opera is often considered too high brow for the common man. Well, there are a number of projects trying to change this impression.

First of all there is Opera in the Park, in San Francisco. This has been going on for 35 years so it's nothing new. But they have upwards of 20,000 people silenced, listening to arias. What a great way to expose the beauty of opera to a broad audience. You can watch a video of some of it here.

Another recent attempt at exposing the masses to Opera is the BBC's Maestro. This is actually a "game show" of sorts, where contestants via for a final prize of conducting the BBC Orchestra at the Proms Concert (quite a prize!). While they contestants have learned to conducts several forms of classical style music, this week they tackled opera arias. Not only do we get to hear the BBC orchestra, but we also get to hear some lovely moments by soloists Alfie Boe and Rebecca Evans. Even with amateur conductors the performances are well worth listening to. The above link is to the BBC iplayer and should still be viewable until the 10th of September.

Then there are the new operas coming out which have audience appeal. "The Fly" just opening at LA Opera. William Friedkin and Woody Allen join forces in Puccini's "Il Trittico", currently on the boards as well in LA. "Wrath", based on Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath", composed by Ricky Ian Gordon with libretto by Michael Korie is coming to Opera Pacific in January. The "Bonesetter's Daughter" is premiering in San Francisco next weekend. Michigan Opera Theatre will present "Margaret Garner" in October, an opera by Richard Danielpour which premiered in Detroit in 2005. Dallas Opera brought back The Who's "Tommy" last week at the Dallas Center Theatre. Then there is the Met's broadcasts of their performances in cinemas around the world. London's Royal Opera House is attempting to follow suit with their own broadcasts this year.

It's a great time for opera, both new works and established masterpieces. For more news and tidbits about what's going on in the opera world check out Opera Chic.

Update:London's Royal Opera House also gave tickets away to first timers in a drawing held by the newspaper, The Sun. What's most interesting about this is The Sun is famed for displaying topless women on page 3 so the clientele is necessarily the typical opera high brow. By reading the article by Farah Nayeri it seems the people who won tickets certainly fit that description. Are the converts? It seems so.


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