Tag Archives | Chicago Opera Theater

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 →

The End of Season Opera Company Projections of Doom

Metropolitan_OperaI read an interesting approach to the annual “Let’s predict the death of Opera” reviews we get about this time each year.  This is a good piece of journalism by Weston Williams from The Christian Science Monitor.  You can read it here.

However, when you read visual sound-bytes contained therein from Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager such as, “The struggle for opera has to do with the transition from an aging audience to a new one” (you think?) or, my absolute favourite, “This is a public art form … and as long as we have the public, the art form will survive and thrive,” (hmm?) says Gelb, you need to wonder whether there is any critical risk assessment going on inside that man’s head?

Notwithstanding, both he and Douglas Clayton, general director of Chicago Opera Theater (COT) concur that “… what is essential for any opera company, whether it’s small, medium, or large, is to find cultural relevance … and connections in the community to inspire audiences to want to participate.”

So the very simple question arises: why doesn’t the Met do exactly that? Continue Reading →