In the movie “Pretty Woman,” Richard Gere’s character takes his date, played by Julia Roberts, to the opera for the first time, saying, “People’s reaction to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic. They either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.” A romantic sentiment, but I don’t buy it.
The truth is that opera has been too frequently inaccessible, whether due to prohibitive costs, language barriers or an air of elitism. But there’s good news: Driven by a variety of forces, opera is evolving.
This month, we examine a new generation of maverick composers and opera companies who are reimagining the art form.
Ricky O’Bannon takes a look at the historic attitudes and economics of discovering “the next big show,” introducing us to the composers and organizations tackling the challenges facing the new American opera.
Virtual reality. Robots. Video games. All continue a centuries-long tradition of leveraging technology to create a fantastic world of wonder and spectacle. 21CM’s managing editor Elizabeth Nonemaker surveys some of the most exciting technological trends in opera today and posits what they might mean for the future.
Then, we expand the conversation to some of today’s creators. Composer Cynthia Lee Wong, soprano Tony Arnold and Boston Lyric Opera artistic director Esther Nelson all weigh in on their hopes for the field. We also welcome back Mark Adamo, who has previously written about opera for 21CM, to share his favorite opera-related People, Organizations and Projects.
Lastly, we again challenge pre-college students who use their musical gifts for the purpose of strengthening communities to share their stories in our second annual Doing Good contest.
Thanks for joining the conversation.