Sunday, March 13, 2011

European Opera Forum: The Opera Experience

Last weekend's European Opera Forum in London was an inspiring experience. The focus of this year's Opera Europa spring conference was "The Opera Experience". Participants were invited to look at opera from a variety of perspectives, with an emphasis on the vital importance of communication among the many different people and departments that make opera happen. Artistic directors met in dialogue with architects and technical directors, education departments shared their work with marketing experts, and so on.

Of particular interest was the extraordinary work that is being done to help attract new audiences to the opera houses. We heard about the Finnish National Opera transforming the house into a dance club atmosphere, where young Finns were invited to experience various performances by members of the ballet company, and then to dance with them until the early hours, animated by top DJ's. Productions that include and engage disadvantaged youth were described by representatives of the Paris Opera, the Scottish Opera, La Monnaie in Brussels, and others. In these large-scale undertakings, the goal goes beyond audience development. Here, art becomes a means of supporting young people in their development as citizens in the truest sense.

It was an honor to be a party to these discussions. We at Classictic learned a great deal about what is important to the opera world today, and we hope that we can actively contribute to the development of this unique genre in Europe and worldwide.

We look forward to getting a similar look at the opera scene across the ocean this May in Boston, when Opera America holds it's yearly conference.