Friday, July 20, 2012

The future of opera

Opera is a complex beast. It is an expensive artform. Many opera productions employ hundreds of artists and creatives. As a result most opera companies are heavily subsidised by public sources. This makes them easy targets for envious competitors who covet the apparently generous public investments in an artform that all too often seems inaccessible to the general public.

The companies themselves also slide all too easily into a vicious circle as they program the usual old favourites in the hope that this will fill auditoriums. The result can be safe, stale and predictable repertoire in dull and conservative productions. Yet there are many opera productions around that show how powerful the medium can be if adventurous and lesser known works are entrusted to intelligent and insightful stage directors.

Next year will see the first ever production of Wagner's complete Ring Cycle in Melbourne. But the cheapest ticket is $1000 for all four operas and it is only possible to book for all four. That is a pity. This is clearly not an option for anyone wanting to dip their toe into Wagner's landmark tetraology. This is opera that only confirms the old prejudices and does nothing for the artform's future.

Image: Giorgio Caoduro

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