This year to make up for the fact that The X Factor won’t be gracing our screens for at least 3 months, ITV offered a new solution to our reality-based-music-talent-search deficiency, in the form of Pop Star to Opera Star. And surprisingly enough, we’ve bought it.
This is one of several signs suggesting that the consumption of opera is changing dramatically. Just last year The Sun newspaper offered its readership discount tickets to the Royal Opera House. Most importantly, Nottingham has its very own Opera Society. So can the impossible be happening? Is opera moving away from its elitist stereotype?
The sceptic in me feels that money must be at the crux of these changes.
Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House is publicly funded in-part, and of the Arts Council’s fund set aside for recession hit arts organisations, opera institutions received over half of the £4m kitty. This kind of spending demands justification, often in the form of audience development and community outreach.
But even without financial incentive Nottingham’s Opera Society are pioneers in demonstrating that opera can be used for personal development. On their schedule this year are performances for Radford Care Group, and a series of workshops at Nottingham Women’s Shelter, based around the theme of confidence and performance.
However, one question remains: why one should want to watch a bewigged man in makeup singing in a foreign language, and pay for it? Well, this stereotype is more than ready to be broken. With the production quality that one could expect of a professional opera, the appeal can only therefore grow. Moreover – and soon to be demonstrated by OpSoc in their summer production of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ – opera has evolved and developed over time, and the contemporary treatment of an opera is just as likely as that of a Shakespeare play.
This being said, I still feel that opera has its work cut out in terms of changing perspectives, but with institutional prerogatives on both a local and national scale being geared towards this end, I’m certain that I won’t be the only convert for long.
The Opera Society will be performing a lunchtime concert in the Djanogly Recital Hall on the 11th May, and their production of ‘The Magic Flute’ will be on 5-6th June. More information can be found at www.opsoc.org.