Broadening Opera's Appeal

Anne Midgette, of the Washington Post, writes in some depth about what's right and wrong with opera today. She ponders what's missing in moderns opera as she examines a variety of pieces.

Early on in the article she writes modern opera has "a sense of slight awkwardness with the medium, an uncertainty about just what an opera wants to be, and therefore a sense of, well, geekiness." I couldn't agree more. About Michael Nyman's "Love Counts" Ms Midgette goes on to say "...there is nothing gritty or true-life about the long swatches of expository text, which are not at all dramatic, or the way that the characters sing them. Opera is about emotion; this piece, despite its rather melodramatic aspects, ends up being about avoiding emotion, working out ideas rather than actually giving them dramatic expression."

Other elements of opera Ms Midgette feels are problematic are: opera's emotional exposure verging on parody, few composers working with theatrical people (or too closely and creating something comical, rather than operatic). But ultimately what she gets to is the need for opera to have appeal.

Yes, opera, like all art forms, but appeal to it's audience. Understand who your audience is and try to reach them in ways they find appealing. With our own opera, we are looking at the groups between the ages of 20 and 50. That may seem a bit broad, but they are the television/cinema generation - the people who are the prime candidates for spending money on live theater (or opera). Successfully get that audience and we'll have a successful opera.

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