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Certainly not, even if we just narrow things down to economics. Let's face it, money talks. Opera companies are arguably music's biggest white elephants, so they can always do with more of it. Any resistance to changes like this on theoretical grounds in the past has vanished in the face of economic reality. Same goes with other changes in the industry, such as orchestras increasingly taking up film music.
 

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Certainly not, even if we just narrow things down to economics. Let's face it, money talks. Opera companies are arguably music's biggest white elephants, so they can always do with more of it. Any resistance to changes like this on theoretical grounds in the past has vanished in the face of economic reality. Same goes with other changes in the industry, such as orchestras increasingly taking up film music.
I wasn't thinking about economics, that to me is not the issue. Both opera and musicals are examples of musical theater, period.
 

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I wasn't thinking about economics, that to me is not the issue. Both opera and musicals are examples of musical theater, period.
In fact, many consider West Side Story to be a legitimate operatic masterpiece, for example the critic and conductor Will Crutchfield. He said as much when he reviewed the 1984 Deutsche Grammophon recording (featuring Kiri Te Kanawa, Jose Carreras, Titania Troyanos, Marilyn Horne, et al., and led by Bernstein himself). Of course, that recording received decidedly mixed reviews from him and others, justifiably, in my opinion.

For me, that is because, while West Side Story is a great work, and certainly can be called an "opera" with a reasonably broad definition of that term, it is not within a particular 18th and 19th century European musical, vocal and dramatic tradition, a tradition that Te Kanawa, Carreras et al. all are thoroughly trained and steeped in.

The issue is, not whether one defines "opera" solely as including works within the 18th and 19th century European tradition, and defines 20th and 21st century musical theater works such as Broadway shows as something else. That is just a question of semantics. The issue is, whether 20th and 21st century works such as West Side Story deserve to be included in the standard repertoire of opera companies, and whether opera singers should be trained to perform in that tradition. I say the answer to that is yes, especially after enough time passes so that the tradition needs a formal program of preservation. Many here disagree with me on that, which is fine, I've said my piece about that in other threads.
 

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I wasn't thinking about economics, that to me is not the issue. Both opera and musicals are examples of musical theater, period.
Now musicals are performed in opera houses, but a while ago, they weren't. A hundred years ago, operettas weren't either, and it even took Porgy and Bess forty years to make it to the Met.

This process of change is inseperable from history, and economics is a big part of that.

Even though they where bastions of exclusivity in the past, opera houses are on their way to becoming multi-purpose venues. In the old days, if you weren't noble, you had to make an application to go to the opera. Now, the tables have turned, they are desperate to keep out of the red. They are happy to take the money of anyone who is paying.

The young Boulez said that opera houses should be destroyed. I wouldn't care much if opera as an artform disappeared from the face of the earth, but I think that the buildings should be put to good use.

This has already happened, Carnegie Hall is an old venue which has hosted all manner of shows for a long time (e.g. Benny Goodman played there in the 1930's). During the 1960's it was saved from demolition by Isaac Stern and others.

The other thing is that even though they're classed as lowbrow, operetta and musicals help add to the performing repertoire. Let's face it, its dominated by a handful of composers roughly from Mozart to Puccini, and it really starts to thin out after World War I.

Whatever the theorists say in their ivory towers, the only constant is change, and money is a huge part of that.
 

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To be fair, there are some classical pieces that can fairly be called songs. But yes, generally pieces or works.

I do enjoy her reaction, lol.
Going into specifics about what the song genre is within classical music would've been too much for her, so I kept it simple. But with people like her, it doesn't even matter. Ignorance and any kind of actual thinking is beyond their comprehension.
 

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Now musicals are performed in opera houses, but a while ago, they weren't. A hundred years ago, operettas weren't either, and it even took Porgy and Bess forty years to make it to the Met.

This process of change is inseperable from history, and economics is a big part of that.
I wasn't arguing with you over that point - it just wasn't what fueled my post.
 

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Fair enough, but with opera in particular, I think there's no other issue as big as how they can survive in a financial sense. Honestly, with the enormous overheads they have, I think that categorising is superfluous.

If we where back in the day of Mahler and Richard Strauss, who said Lehar was basically rubbish, there wouldn't be opera anymore. Not that I particularly care about opera, but there are many others who do. So I'm saying these changes are probably inevitable, and necessary for its survival.
 

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Fair enough, but with opera in particular, I think there's no other issue as big as how they can survive in a financial sense. Honestly, with the enormous overheads they have, I think that categorising is superfluous.

If we where back in the day of Mahler and Richard Strauss, who said Lehar was basically rubbish, there wouldn't be opera anymore. Not that I particularly care about opera, but there are many others who do. So I'm saying these changes are probably inevitable, and necessary for its survival.
I've long suspected that since travel has become so much easier and broadcasting technology so much better, we might find that we have too many operas, symphonies, ballets, and so on. For example, unless a very wealthy person is willing to put up a huge amount of money, it's not clear to me that a town of two million people can afford an orchestra. For an opera, I don't know the numbers but I'd guess you either need state support or perhaps ten million people. But in places (Vienna, Milan, etc.) where the opera is an important part of the country's cultural tradition and/or a big tourist draw, state support could make sense as an investment, since people who travel to experience the opera there will spend a lot of money on hotels, restaurants, shopping and so on.
 

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I've long suspected that since travel has become so much easier and broadcasting technology so much better, we might find that we have too many operas, symphonies, ballets, and so on. For example, unless a very wealthy person is willing to put up a huge amount of money, it's not clear to me that a town of two million people can afford an orchestra. For an opera, I don't know the numbers but I'd guess you either need state support or perhaps ten million people. But in places (Vienna, Milan, etc.) where the opera is an important part of the country's cultural tradition and/or a big tourist draw, state support could make sense as an investment, since people who travel to experience the opera there will spend a lot of money on hotels, restaurants, shopping and so on.
Yes, and technology really is a double-edged sword in this context. Musicians can develop an audience in the millions with modest equipment and studios through youtube, for example, and make real money from it. If you think this doesn't apply to classical music in the 18th and 19th century European tradition, check out TwoSet Violin's youtube channel, with 3.5 million subscribers. But staging a traditional opera or symphony orchestra work for a live audience is a very expensive proposition, and as you say, increasingly impractical for all but the deepest-pocketed institutions.

People dismissed Glenn Gould as an eccentric back in the 1960s for daring to claim that the live classical concert was passe, even though he himself had a highly successful career in the recording studio, and on TV and radio, after retiring from the stage permanently when only in his early 30s. True, his personal life and conduct did little to dispel the idea he was eccentric, though some of that likely was shrewd showmanship on his part. But as the decades pass, his basic thesis seems less and less eccentric.
 

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I've long suspected that since travel has become so much easier and broadcasting technology so much better, we might find that we have too many operas, symphonies, ballets, and so on. For example, unless a very wealthy person is willing to put up a huge amount of money, it's not clear to me that a town of two million people can afford an orchestra. For an opera, I don't know the numbers but I'd guess you either need state support or perhaps ten million people. But in places (Vienna, Milan, etc.) where the opera is an important part of the country's cultural tradition and/or a big tourist draw, state support could make sense as an investment, since people who travel to experience the opera there will spend a lot of money on hotels, restaurants, shopping and so on.
I get what you're saying. The challenges presented by technology are, of course, a factor not only for classical but for the whole music industry.

I think that the changes we are seeing in classical shows how it makes sense to build new audiences for new sources of income, and in effect to consolidate resources to save on costs. They are increasingly seeing themselves as businesses, not just cultural institutions.

I think it makes sense for the oldest opera institutions, like the ones you mention, to continue in some way because they are important parts of the cultural landscape of those cities. Perhaps, like the most famous art galleries, they can support themselves based on old laurels. Having said that, far less people go to opera than to art galleries. In another thread, I posted an article by Robert Thicknesse, who expressed doubt about whether opera even in Paris is sustainable:

https://www.talkclassical.com/46721-do-most-lovers-classical-14.html#post2104034

If the average opera house gets by with productions of West Side Story, My Fair Lady or Phantom of the Opera, then good luck to them. These will more or less guarantee crowds - many, probably most, of them new to opera, and inevitably younger than the regulars. However, even with these, I doubt that opera companies can do better than break even. That's hand to mouth, not a sustainable way to run a business.

Time will tell. I still think that opera will inevitably go the way of the dodo. As I said, I'm not worried about that, and I think that it would free up at least some money for other areas of the arts which have potential to attract more people.
 

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Time will tell. I still think that opera will inevitably go the way of the dodo. As I said, I'm not worried about that, and I think that it would free up at least some money for other areas of the arts which have potential to attract more people.
What about the people that love opera, many of whom frequent this very forum?
 

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Best ask them, because they'd know more about what's going on in opera than I do. I don't know how far you'd get though, because funding of opera is a potentially sensitive issue.

I've argued that it makes sense, financially speaking, that musicals are being performed by opera companies. The conversation started here:
https://www.talkclassical.com/72911-seriously-what-do-we-6.html#post2199938

My post which you quoted includes a link to my contribution to an earlier discussion which is of relevance (especially the Thicknesse article):
https://www.talkclassical.com/46721-do-most-lovers-classical-14.html#post2104034
 

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Oxford Words defines "elitism" as: "the advocacy or existence of an elite as a dominating element in a system or society." Elitism also means, "the attitude or behavior of a person or group who regard themselves as an elite." A graph showing amount of usage has the term entering English around 1950, reaching a peak near 2000, and staying near there since.

I'm seriously concerned about the use of the word now in respect to classical music. It seems to me that a good place to start is understanding what we mean, and what others mean, by "elitism" and "elitist." The above definitions apply in the plural and the singular. Perhaps classical music is a system in the sense of its interlocking institutions, personnel, music, literature, and so on. Concerning groups or individuals, while attitudes are important I think what we say on TalkClassical counts as behavior.

In any case, what do you mean by "elitism" and "elitist" as used in 2021?
I figure I'll take a crack at the OP.

As I see the world, nothing is more important to most people than belonging to a group and being respected and valued by other people in their group. Music and other aspects of culture -- dialect, styles of clothing, religion -- is ordinarily a way of reaffirming group membership.

In complex hierarchical societies, the ruling elite form a group and as usual music is one of the ways that they affirm each other's membership in the group. Probably every society that has had a court has had court music. Of course each particular society develops its own particular idiosyncrasies.

What we now call "classical music" began in medieval and early modern Western Europe as the music of the church and the courts. For a long time, it was implicitly contrasted to what came (in the nineteenth century at least, if not earlier) to be regarded as folk music. Later, industrialization and urbanization turned folk music into "popular music," which inherited the now-explicit contrast to what we call classical music. Both labels -- "folk" and "popular" -- draw hard attention to the idea that they are the music of the people, not of the elite.

Maybe things have changed. Perhaps the inauguration of the next monarch of the UK will be set to punk rock. Perhaps K-pop boy bands accompany the most exclusive Viennese balls. Perhaps the admissions offices of Ivy League universities prioritize students who can fill out their jazz bands. Perhaps the board members of Fortune 500 companies and their families use rap festivals as an occasion to meet each other socially, and impress each other with large donations to the institutions that fund hip hop.

I'm out of touch so I'm not sure.

But what I know for sure is that there are better and worse ways to appreciate classical music, and I strive to do it in the best ways only.
 

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Oxford Words defines "elitism" as: "the advocacy or existence of an elite as a dominating element in a system or society." Elitism also means, "the attitude or behavior of a person or group who regard themselves as an elite." A graph showing amount of usage has the term entering English around 1950, reaching a peak near 2000, and staying near there since.

I'm seriously concerned about the use of the word now in respect to classical music. It seems to me that a good place to start is understanding what we mean, and what others mean, by "elitism" and "elitist." The above definitions apply in the plural and the singular. Perhaps classical music is a system in the sense of its interlocking institutions, personnel, music, literature, and so on. Concerning groups or individuals, while attitudes are important I think what we say on TalkClassical counts as behavior.

In any case, what do you mean by "elitism" and "elitist" as used in 2021?
The word "elites" has been used more recently in the nature of a political term, i.e. to promote class warfare. So its meaning has been corrupted somewhat, and politicized. But how it manifests regarding Classical music is linking Classical music with the elite class and all the attendant implications that association insinuates: high quality, sophistication, discernment, and good taste.

The problem with "elitism" is thinking or accepting that the people within the elite class (such as it may exist) actually have those traits in more abundance than the rest of us and that the music that they prefer is actually better than any other kind.
 

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I understand that the world has moved on. But can we ignore the value of logical development and long history and complexity and effectiveness of CM, compared to other musics? I guess we can.

I know that I wouldn't have had this great life in music if I took today’s notions seriously when I was young (it wasn't a prevalent notion, as I remember things, or maybe I was insulated from it growing up in the richest county in the world). Anyway, I know myself, and I know how cynical and lazy I can be. There's no way I would've put in the effort and practice and searching.
 

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...

As I see the world, nothing is more important to most people than belonging to a group and being respected and valued by other people in their group. Music and other aspects of culture -- dialect, styles of clothing, religion -- is ordinarily a way of reaffirming group membership.

...What we now call "classical music" began in medieval and early modern Western Europe as the music of the church and the courts...Both labels -- "folk" and "popular" -- draw hard attention to the idea that they are the music of the people, not of the elite.
You mention clothing and you look at someone like Steve Jobs, who was famous for wearing cheap casual clothes, that sort of slumming it goes back to the French Revolution. The sans-culottes didn't wear wigs and ditched breeches for ordinary work wear, basically amounting to a rough suit and pants set, which was eventually taken up by the bourgeois.

This is how trends tend to change, and although it inevitably starts on the streets, it becomes more legit when people who matter take it up. The thing is though that someone like Steve Jobs can set a trend by doing something ordinary, but if I wore a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers to work, my boss would say "What are you doing?" :lol:
 

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Best ask them, because they'd know more about what's going on in opera than I do. I don't know how far you'd get though, because funding of opera is a potentially sensitive issue.

I've argued that it makes sense, financially speaking, that musicals are being performed by opera companies. The conversation started here:
https://www.talkclassical.com/72911-seriously-what-do-we-6.html#post2199938

My post which you quoted includes a link to my contribution to an earlier discussion which is of relevance (especially the Thicknesse article):
https://www.talkclassical.com/46721-do-most-lovers-classical-14.html#post2104034
I may have misinterpreted your post, but you seemed to have a near gleeful indifference at the (supposedly) pending demise of opera. It just seemed so strange to me that one wouldn't care (and even exhibit a certain glee) about the demise of something that is so deeply important to many people, past and present.

As an opera lover myself, I have no issues with opera theatres being used for musicals and don't really see why anyone would. No one is claiming musicals are operas or vice-versa, or that they offer the same kind of artistic experience (I think one of the chief problems with modern enjoyment of operas is that people approach them expecting a sort of musical just with classical music).
 

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What we now call "classical music" began in medieval and early modern Western Europe as the music of the church and the courts. For a long time, it was implicitly contrasted to what came (in the nineteenth century at least, if not earlier) to be regarded as folk music. Later, industrialization and urbanization turned folk music into "popular music," which inherited the now-explicit contrast to what we call classical music. Both labels -- "folk" and "popular" -- draw hard attention to the idea that they are the music of the people, not of the elite.
As a historical note, I think it is a bit inaccurate to say that folk music turned into popular music. Folk music was often (not always) performed by amateur musicians to people with little to no money. Popular music relies on the middle class created by industrialisation; it is performed by professional musicians to many people who are paying decent money. Before industrialization, the average joe simply didn't have the sort of money to make "pop music" a reality. Pop music, although it can trace its origins back a bit farther, is really a post-war phenomenon.
 
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