Opera has changed. Have you noticed? Over the past 15 years the art and its preservers, innovators and admirers alike have had to adapt to a world that’s changing at an exponential rate. Advancements from many corners of the opera world have been indispensable to its success in the modern era.
Below you’ll find the most important things to happen to opera since the start of this millennium.
This company single-handedly organized the audition and application process for the entire opera industry. It not only organizes but it saves companies and artists time, paper and money. And who doesn’t enjoy more of such things?
9. Creation of new composer-in-residence programs
Unfortunately, we can’t quite label this as a trend (yet), however companies like Opera Philadelphia and American Lyric Theater are instrumental in reinvigorating impact to audiences with new works.
8. Live in HD performances
True, it’s not exactly supporting live performance and attendants aren’t directly helping to fill seats in the opera house, but it has helped to spread the word. In a big, big way. It’s a healthy attempt to be seen by the Hollywood influenced.
7. Modern Stage Technology
Video projections, electronics and state-of-the-art machines are making sets highly advanced. Dallas Opera’s 2012 Tristan und Isolde comes to mind as an example: the video-derived waves crashing on the shore in the background and rolling from back to front of the raked stage was nothing short of a mind-blowing theatrical achievement. (Thanks Elaine McCarthy!)
6. The Creation of the National Opera Center
Opera America has provided a service to companies and artists in NYC giving a place to perform, audition, connect and learn. Every big city should seek to produce a center that creates a physical hub connecting so many vital entities.
5. The Rise of Intimate Companies
The trend of start up, small companies with unlimited creativity in unexpected spaces has propelled a fresh outlook on the future of opera: efficient, intimate and mobile. Companies like LoftOpera, Opera on Tap and Beth Morrison Projects are providing groundbreaking new ways to see opera.
4. Modern Fundraising
Companies have keenly used Kickstarter and Indiegogo to develop new projects or raise funds for their next season. Crowd sourcing will become more and more important to the financial foundation of a company as we move deeper into the 21st Century. It creates a way to track and analyze civic response.
3. New Opera
It’s been an uphill climb not only convincing nostalgic boards, but also communities to embrace new works. But we’re starting to see the pendulum swing in favor of progress. We can thank composers dedicated to preservation like Jake Heggie, Rufus Wainwright, Thomas Ades and Nico Muhly.
2. Broadway, Pop-Culture and Primetime Collaboration
Opera has always worked best as a collaborative art form, even with the most unlikely sources. If you ever followed our weekly Saturday Morning Comics you would know just how much we love to see the opera celebs gracing the unexpected stage (oh, how we long for just one more Domingo and Miss Piggy duet). As opera slowly discovers and redefines itself in the 21st Century, it’s finding promising pop-niche categories (Forte, Paul Potts, America’s Got Talent, Andrea Bocelli) and embraces collaboration with high-profile popular creators (Julie Taymor, Rufus Wainwright) to stretch it’s wings.
1. The Internet
Of course this sounds cliche, but c’mon, the internet is the information highway. Composers, directors, general managers, artists and innovators are all just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg. The new media is the new normal in which we stay in-the-know (thanks Anne Midgette, Huff Post, Barihunks and Opera Chic to name a few). We’ve already figured out how to connect across the world, broadcast performances and build audiences online and we’re getting better at it each year; soon we’ll be unearthing just how crucial all of it will be to the survival of the art.
Giving into platitude I’m sure it’s safe to use the old saying – ‘you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!’
Think we missed something? Let us know!