Tag Archives | ENO

Wait, There is Something Really Wrong With This…..

Cressida_Pollock

Picture by Geoff Pugh

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?

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Save Us From Any Further Opera Company Crises

Can you imagine telling internationally renowned theatre director, Peter Sellars, that he is wrong?  Well I am about to.  But read this first:

ENO_Crisis_The_Stage

Forget the out-of-context number reporting.  It’s not salient to the real issue.  Sure, it’s bad that ENO’s income is down £6 million pounds year-on-year and that the previously reported ad nauseum financial fortunes of the opera company have been pretty dire for a long period. But that’s not the point.  This is: it’s not about classification Mr. Sellars, or whether or not you ascribe to the spurious notion that “There’s not one theatre or opera company that can sell out anything anymore.”  Actually lots of things ‘sell out’ but only when you create demand. To understand what drives demand in delivering entertainment, you have to ascribe to the theory of recursion – in this sense: the process of repeating success in a self-similar way. Which is why Mr. Sellars’ observation is so interesting – because his work is so successful on so many levels. If you have ever seen this luminary director’s Mozart opera productions, or his vision for György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, you’ll know what I mean.

So to this news clipping. What is causing the problem with ENO – and any other number of opera companies around the world – whose efforts are desultory at best a lot of the time or, at worst, uninformed (and out of touch) with the changing face of media and entertainment?  It’s the people, of course, making the decisions.  They don’t use any meta-data analytics or other research tools to inform them about what audiences want (and DEMAND), they just make ‘artistic decisions’ based on ‘knowing’ what is right for their company or organisation.  THEY DON’T KNOW!  Ignorance is absolutely not a virtue.  It never was, but now it’s just downright irresponsible. Continue Reading →

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