Tuesday, 16 March 2010


Sally, who is a stock librarian, asked me to do a list of book suggestions to be printed up and posted in the library for readers. I dashed off a varied list that won't give me entry to the house of literary sages but it did make me wonder at how opera is so much more shackled by prejudice (benign or otherwise) when it comes to what people will venture out to see and hear. OHP, of course, has a better record than many in this regard - we have persuaded thousands of people to extend their operatic tastes, but even we meet entrenched resistance with some parts of the repertoire and no matter how good you tell somebody an opera is, they will dig their heels in and refuse to give it a try. 'Better the devil you know' would seem to be the principle criteria.

Music is unique in this regard which is odd since it is the art form with the most infinite possibilities. People who happily read new book after new book, see play after play, watch latest movie after latest movie will restrict themselves to the narrowest repertoire of opera (you know the form) and even when they do explore the edges, there will often be other rules of engagement - in my experience the rarity stands a better chance if it is Italian. And offering it cheaper only makes a partial contribution to improving that situation. I have mountains of statistics to back this up by the way so don't argue with me.

I'm not complaining that people flock to what they know - it means we can safely programme the bulk of our season. Our many years of work mean that we can also safely (almost) programme some rarities that others would consider potential disaster. But I do wish that unknown, but good operas (and I'm not talking about contemporary opera although some of those do quite well relatively speaking) would be greeted with the same universal excitement as a new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. I will leave the reader to luxuriate in the irony of that last remark.

The build is ahead of schedule and the mezzanine part of the construction has been moved forward a week. At this rate we will have so much time for the finishing touches (vital!) that we will be able to hand polish the gravel.

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