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Opera has also become increasingly accessible, the Met for example streaming performances online, broadcasting its own subscription radio channel and transmitting productions to European and American cinemas. Furthermore, the 'Arnold Marie Schwartz Gallery Met', displaying contemporary visual art, continues to attract new audiences. In the same vein, Welsh National Opera is offering Cardiff and Birmingham residents the opportunity to sing alongside the opera chorus and orchestra in a production of Walton's Belshazzar's Feast conducted by Carlo Rizzi.

Such fresh perspective and tonics in the operatic world are what is needed to revitalize the genre. Opera houses worldwide are committed to commissioning new works, many to critical acclaim such as the 2004 world première of Thomas Adès' The Tempest, yet for the most part such efforts are thwarted, by dramaturgy departments showing repeated reluctance for adventurous programming. The climax of artistic stalemate appeared in November 2006, when all three Berlin opera houses ran concurrent productions of Die Zauberflöte.

The necessary measures for rejuvenation are already in place, yet there remains a shortfall in investment at grassroots level. Administrative problems need rectification and the choice must now be made as to whether the operatic genre is indeed worth saving. Whilst current attendance levels and financial deficits may continue for the coming two generations, governments and music enthusiasts must view the art form from both an artistic and economic perspective, recognizing as Daniel Barenboim pertinently avowed, 'we are learning not only from life for music, but above all from music for life.'

Copyright © 9 September 2007 Ciaran McAuley, Berlin, Germany


Further reading:

Hall, George, 'Meeting La Stupenda', BBC Music Magazine, vol 15 no 3: page 40 (2006)

Morris, C William: President and Chief Executive Officer: Metropolitan Opera Annual Report, page 3 (PDF)

San Francisco Opera - Careers in Opera

Claude Debussy quotes

Michael Tanner, 'Wondrous Voice', BBC Music Magazine, vol 15 no 3: page 82 (2006)

Lemke-Matwey, Christine, 'Es ist vier vor zwölf', Der Tagesspiegel, 1 December 2006

General articles about classical music

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