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New operas. Too conservative?

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#1 Alexandra


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Posted 23 June 2002 - 12:52 PM

American Opera is enjoying a boom -- full houses, new operagoers. But there are still repertory problems.

ANTHONY TOMMASINI's article in today's NY Times raises some of the questions and addresses issues that will not be unfamiliar to balletgoers, and readers of this site.

New Operas Are Booming, but the Bold Aren't Heard

AMERICAN orchestras may be grappling with dwindling audiences and the indifference of the young, but opera companies are doing quite well. Attendance, overall, is up. It's not that the general directors of opera companies have been boldly reinventing what they do. The public just seems more interested in opera.


Yet as younger, eager audiences have been enticed into the opera house by supertitles, the natural curiosity for the new that exists among fans of theater, dance and film has affected operagoers as well.


What's not so great, however, is the timidity of their choices, which has resulted in a lot of earnest but forgettable works. General managers gravitate to composers who hew to what are deemed accessible musical styles: lush neo-Romanticism, folksy Americana, a halfhearted Minimalism that rejects the truly radical repetitiveness of the early, and best, operas by Philip Glass. Commissions tend to go not to bold composers but to marketable projects.

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