Who cares about opera?
Making opera matter
Art is at the centre of social, cultural and economic life. There have never been more theatres, museums or galleries, more film and media creators, more musicians and writers—in short, more art and culture.
Not all of it is good –(when was it ever?)—but our need and desire for culture in our lives are clear.
“There was never a time like now to be a lover of the arts. Mozart never heard most of Bach. We can hear everything by both of them. Brahms was so bowled over by Carmen that he saw twenty performances, but he had to buy twenty opera tickets to do so.”
Art is a pleasure and a comfort, a companion in life. It is also a mirror in which we find and define our values. It helps us explore identity and beliefs, and those of others. When familiar systems of meaning, including religion and politics, have less hold on many people, culture is where we can make sense of life and understand our experience.
Opera can and should be as central in this meaning-making as any art. Its artistic resources and emotive power have made it a radical force in the past. There is no reason for it to languish in the attic of contemporary life like an unwanted inheritance.
An artistic coherence was achieved because each person performed out of the truth of their experience, in the confidence of one another’s respect.
SAMP O Tempo (Somos Nós)
People will care about opera when it cares about them. In co-creation everyone matters; everyone can contribute something to the artistic process. The stories that emerge, and the ways they are told, are new and different but they have room for everyone too. The co-created operas presented here speak of universal experiences in ways that include audiences and their concerns.
Co-creating opera in this way does not mean we abandon conventional productions or turn away from Mozart or Puccini. It means we enlarge the repertoire to speak of diversity or climate change, or other matters that did not much concern the 19th century. We stretch the form to accommodate technologies and techniques that did not exist then. We enrich its aesthetics with new styles and cultures.
We make opera matter by energising it with our own ideas and feelings, from this time and place.