This one comes way from left field. On the day that I read that Maestro Mark Wigglesworth has resigned as Music Director of ENO, I also read this:
ENO head Cressida Pollock’s exclusive manifesto to save her company: ‘I can’t allow it to fail’
Umm, I’ve actually read this thrice. The first time, I thought I must be in need of more coffee and be mis-reading the context of the piece; the second time made me realise that this is a volatile and questionably dubious position for Cressida Pollock to take – let alone publicly address – and after reading it a third time, I was shaking my head in wonder over its poor timing and the grasping nature of the ideas expressed.
Before I dissect this article, just let me say, that based on what I have read over the last year about the shenanigans at ENO, I actually like Ms. Pollock’s insights and interpretation of the challenges being faced by London’s alternate choice Opera organisation. But there are a few alarm bells here worthy of interrogation. Maybe Ms. Pollock wants to raise them? If so, she has, at the very least, gained my attention. My analysis here is unquestionably critical. I think the piece, no doubt for all its best intentions, is severely misjudged.
Firstly, nothing is too big to fail and ENO adopting an imperious position as to its unassailability is contentious at the very least. Because you don’t want something to happen, doesn’t make it an assured outcome. Secondly, it’s not a question as to whether it is easy to read headlines and be dismayed for the future of Opera – Opera is in very serious trouble! It’s in serious trouble globally (and certainly here in the USA) for the very reason that ENO is in the precarious state it finds itself. It’s not relevant! It could be – if the imperative for the staging of opera was turned on its head – but it’s not, so it is increasingly sidelined by a disinterested and uneducated public.
If you can’t face that truth, it doesn’t matter what “open conversations” are had about persuading audiences to turn off Netflix or, God forbid, attempt a persuasive argument about the “necessity of experiencing opera”. It’s merely rhetoric. No-one actually believes it, and if you adopt such a strategy for overcoming the immense and real imposts as a literal means in safeguarding Opera as an art form, you are unquestionably doomed.
Have you caught onto what I see as very concerning yet?