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Thread: What Is Killing Opera?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Xavier's Avatar
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    Default What Is Killing Opera?

    "Ladies and gentlemen, movies have taken the place of the opera and there you have it"

    [......]

    "All of us who love opera want the same thing, I suppose, new and great ones that contain the essential ingredients for the sacred brew of telling important, politically active stories in a medium that entertains and dazzles its audience. Right now, Hollywood is simply better at it, while Broadway seems to have forgotten that, too"

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-m...b_1822703.html

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    Movies have taken de opera? Why? Because of the number of the audience? Money? Reviews?

    Opera, cinema and theater, althought performance arts, very different. By that same line of thought, cinema killed theater, video killed the radio star, hip-hop and rap killed rock music, broadway music killed opera, movies killed musicals, internet killed letters, facebook killed hi5 and nowadays the internet is killing music and cinema.

    I even think that the movie era is about to faint someday. What does cinema do to dazzle its audience? The supercomplex plots? The special effects? The sexy lady in high heels but kicks everybody without breaking one single nail? Werewolfs with no body hair? Honestly to me, hollywood is losing territory when compared to movies from other countries.

    i never liked competitions like this one. I accept all three kinds of performance art (oh! and ballet too) instead of taking sides. There are something one could learn in movies to use in opera and vice-versa. Enjoy them!

    Also with all the technology we have in this century, i think opera has never been so great. Like othe world we live there are pros and cons (lots of bad opera productions/stage directors who are very good in destroying opera) but millions of people have the possibility to see/hear opera as never before.
    Last edited by dionisio; Aug-23-2012 at 11:38.

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    Senior Member Dongiovanni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xavier View Post
    "the essential ingredients for the sacred brew of telling important, politically active stories "
    Uhm, and what recent Hollywood blockbusters have done this recently ? Only a few at the most....

    What point is the author trying to make here ? That people stop attending opera performances because the subjects of these operas are irrelevant ? Or not of this time ? Or not "important" ? And to get their fix they turn to Hollywood ?

    Really ? I don't think so.
    Last edited by Dongiovanni; Aug-23-2012 at 11:56.

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    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
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    There are plenty of terrible movies, just as there are plenty of terrible operas that have not survived (and that continue to be written, some might say), but that shouldn't be representative of the genre.

    To an extent, I agree that the film industry has supplanted opera for the most part, but I disagree that this is bad thing. With movies, as with opera, the potential often exceeds the realisation. Opera was concieved as a merging of the art forms - literature, music, visual conception. Movies have all these elements too and though the musical element is significantly less important, much movie music has been very successful in popular culture in much the same way as some of Verdi's music was. Movies have become the dominant art form because they are so accessible and they have so much more potential than previous art forms. In that, they are superior to opera as a medium. Some of the best operas I have seen are opera movies because the original opera has been improved by that medium.

    I don't dispute that opera aspires to be a more intellectual art form, but there are many films that fulfill that role too and it is often the case that both are inspired by pre-existing written works or plays. There will always be a place for opera, however, because its focus on music makes it unique enough to bet set apart from Broadway or Hollywood. Opera will always be around in much the same way as we will always have Shakespeare, Picasso or Mozart. It is worth preserving and there will always be enough people with a passion for it to continue the legacy. It can never be killed because it has become immortal.
    Last edited by crmoorhead; Aug-23-2012 at 17:11.
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    What's killing opera for me?

    Poor adverts -sometimes even I am confused.

    Poor or silly booking systems, where you have to wait for specific periods before you can book unless a paid member. How about 'first come, first served'. I can understand that there is a privilege system but it puts people off booking. If airlines did it like this they would be bankrupt!

    Dress codes that are too strict. What is wrong with smart casual? if you can afford to pay for the ticket why do you need to have a suit on.

    Poor viewing angles in some theaters. I can appreciate that some theaters are very old and it came with the style but what about the others?

    Bad dates....once I went to see 4 operas in one week with one opera company. I was shattered!!

    I personally don't like the hype some singers get. The Netrebko's, the Kauffman's and the Villazons. Yes and before that were the Alagna's. A bit too much for my liking. They seem to get too many roles that could be filled by much better singers in that rep (in my opinion).

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    To a degree it is true that movies are a cheap (per capita) and easily accessible art form while opera is an expensive (per capita) and not easily accessible art form and that this makes a difference to the sheer numbers of people who watch movies as opposed to opera.

    I would be interested in learning about the statistics relating to opera movies world wide.
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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yashin View Post
    Poor or silly booking systems, where you have to wait for specific periods before you can book unless a paid member. How about 'first come, first served'. I can understand that there is a privilege system but it puts people off booking. If airlines did it like this they would be bankrupt!
    I have never been able to understand the privilege system in the electronic age. Why not simply send out a mail shot to one's
    "privileged" people on the data base and let them reserve their tickets before it is advertised?

    One company in South Africa (musicals, not opera) goes through their data base each season, picking the big block bookings (for companies etc) and adds them to the privileged list and then invites them to a launch ahead of the media launch. Dinner and schmoozing and all the frills and excitement before the press releases go out. So they just get reminded when the publicity starts - although a lot of them have done their bookings already. A data base like that is worth a thousand journalists.

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    I don't think anything is "killing" opera . Of course, it has its problems, but so does every field of human endeavor . But it's a great and magnificent art form which has survived for 400 years, and I'm sure it will last as long as humanity does, or until some catastrophe or series of them destroys human culture .
    I agree with the point that countless mediocre or lousy operas have been deservedly forgotten. And only time will tell which of the many which have been premiered since the year 2000 will survive .
    But the operatic repertoire is anything but stagnant . Every year, new ones are premiered, and most do not achive instant popularity . And long neglected operas from the past are revived . There is no way to predict which ones will be revived in upcoming years .
    Lack of new operas ? Not exactly. Recently, there have been new operas all over Europe and America by such composers as Glass, Adams, Bolcom, Rorem, Harrison Birtwistle, Henze, Andre Previn, Unsuk Chin, Kaaia Saariaho, Louis Andriessen, Mark Adamo,Lorin Maazel, Jake Heggie, and many other ocmposers. Some have actually been enthusiastically received by audiences . Some of these have been released on CD and DVD .
    As far as I am concerned, opera is very much alive and kicking, whatever its problems .
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    Answering the question directly:

    1. money (self-explanatory)
    2. duration: operas are long and tedious to some, and may be boring to most people
    3. money
    4. the idea that opera is elitist because it's full of rich, white, and old people and they will reject you because of your class, race, or what you're wearing
    5. etiquette: you need to somehow know what to wear without receiving weird looks
    6. money
    7. elitism
    8. money
    9. people like modern popular music more
    10. money
    11. elitism
    12. money
    13. elitism
    and so on

    Movies aren't killing opera, opera is killing opera. However, movies are killing opera because it is the cheaper and "better" alternative to elitist opera but this has been going on since films were created. What opera needs to do is to completely abandon the annoying formalities and treat it as what it really is: opera, not etiquette.
    Last edited by Toddlertoddy; Aug-29-2012 at 09:04.
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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    The guy in the article mentions two dates, the birth of opera in 1598, and then mentions the emergence of Broadway musicals in the mid 1920's.

    Well, quite frankly, 300+ years for an artform is not bad, actually. So, RIP Opera (1598-1925)?

    In any case, opera is not killed or dead, its just less important than it was in say the 19th century.

    But funny how with things like Lloyd Webber's 'Phantom of the Opera' (the title is a dead giveaway), musicals themselves have been becoming more and more 'operatic' (eg. using techniques taken from opera, and quite challenging to sing, etc.). I mean we've even had combinations of various things, eg. 'rock opera' in the 1970's ('Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Hair'). So its kind of developing.

    But I think that there's a challenge for the whole thing to be relevant to a wider audience. But maybe that won't happen anymore. I read a quote by the American 'veteran' composer Ned Rorem who said when he was young, the issue for many composers was to fight some cause or other, but he said now, people don't care about those things, a composer's biggest challenge is to actually have an audience in the first place, forget fighting causes. So what he's saying brings to my mind issues like relevance, sustainability (putting bums on seats?) and music as a living art, not some museum piece or relic of the past. Its similar with other issue in classical music, not only opera, but the whole thing basically.
    Last edited by Sid James; Aug-29-2012 at 09:16.
    Contrasts and Connections in Music

    "Oh! It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read."
    - Algernon Moncrieff (in Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest).

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    Super Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    The 2013 Melbourne Ring is apparently almost sold out, over a year before it is due to be performed. Not bad for a dying artform.
    Last edited by mamascarlatti; Aug-29-2012 at 11:47.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Dongiovanni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toddlertoddy View Post
    What opera needs to do is to completely abandon the annoying formalities and treat it as what it really is: opera, not etiquette.
    What would you suggest to "abandon annoying farmalities" ? I think this is an intersting topic for discussion here.

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    Senior Member quack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    The 2013 Melbourne Ring is apparently almost sold out, over a year before it is due to be performed. Not bad for a dying artform.
    Well I don't believe opera is as close to death as is often said, but the fact that it is a 140 year old opera that draws the crowds suggests not entirely healthy to me.

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    Glenn Beck.
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    Senior Member quack's Avatar
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    That's hardly fair, he's killing everything, opera is just a minor casualty of his.
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