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Misunderstanding Opera at The Management Level

Osborne_OperaIn a recent online article at the wfmt radio website, I read this article ostensibly announcing the appointment of Ashley Magnus as the new General Director at Chicago Opera Theater.  COT is perhaps best known for the tenure of the brilliant general director, Brian Dickie, from 1999-2012.

At a time when my commercial company, Quill & Quaver Associates, in New York is undertaking a huge project in storyworld design for engaging audiences with Opera, I find aspects of Ms. Magnus’s sentiment in respect to the travails of Opera to wrankle, especially her expressed; and inaccurate, understanding of Opera historically as “The old school, ‘Gods and men’ – scale epic works” (sic.).

Maybe she has  been misquoted or something said taken out of context?  Who knows, but the current challenges around declining audience attendance for Opera has nothing whatsoever to do with the works that comprise the canon.  Moreover, does Ms. Magnus really think that “…love stories of human experiences that I have found in contemporary works” only exist in Contemporary Opera? Or, perhaps she doesn’t actually know the canon well enough? Continue Reading →