Opera drama highlights opera problems
When was the last time you went to the opera?
No, here’s a better trivial question: What are the two shows staged by New Zealand Opera this year? Could you tell me? I’ll give you a hint. One of them is one of the most famous operas of all time. The other is the name of a character from The Matrix.
Difficult? Hmm. The answer is the marriage of Figaro and (M) Orpheus. If you haven’t figured it out, don’t worry. Me neither. And I’m going to risk a guess and suggest … most of us don’t know which operas are being shown by the New Zealand Opera this year, just as most of us didn’t know which operas were being shown. by the New Zealand Opera. last year, previous year or previous year.
This is the reason why the director of New Zealand Opera takes risks. This is the reason why he decided to shake things up and try to attract new audiences. This is the reason why New Zealand Opera commissioned work on the tragicomedy that was unruly tourists.
Now … I have to admit a conflict of interest. One of the writers on Unruly Tourists the Opera happens to be one of my oldest and dearest friends. I have known the project for ages. And the very first time he told me about it, I turned on.
‘Outside. Standing.’ I said. It’s a piece of commissioning genius. Forget the stuffy 17th and 18th century foreign language plays, I want something fresh!
And I should say … I’m probably a good fan of fairweather opera. I have attended and enjoyed various operas in various places. I watched Wagner’s Ring Cycle performed by some of the best in the world at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. I liked it! And I don’t want to be a jerk, but I would gently suggest that just knowing who Wagner is and being familiar with the ring cycle from a distance probably puts me in a minority of New Zealanders.
And yet … for all of that. I haven’t been to a New Zealand opera production in years. For some reason, it just hasn’t been a priority in my life.
Apparently, getting more of us to the opera is not a big priority for a free kick from the New Zealand Opera Board, which resigned in protest against the opera Unruly Tourists and the new management of the New Zealand Opera. Except – of course – the resignations only underscored the director’s point.
Get this: One of the opera spectators quoted in reports complaining about the Unruly Tourist opera said that teasing tourists was “middle class snobbery.”
Snobbery of the middle class. If he’s concerned about middle-class snobbery, wait until he hears about it … OPERA: that art form so famous and popular among the lower classes. Middle class snobbery ?! Recklessness! Leave me alone.
NZ Opera receives grants from Creative New Zealand and various councils worth several million dollars per year. One of the complaints from the crowd at the old opera house is that the new management will be a waste of taxpayer money. I would have thought that producing art that very few people see, for a small section of generally elitist and very wealthy New Zealanders, was a much more blatant use of taxpayer money than trying something out. new.
Nowhere have I seen a suggestion that New Zealand Opera will never stage the classics again. These resignations were submitted even before anyone saw the show! And what is the purpose of art if not to reflect our society? To tickle us and challenge us?
The New Zealand Opera’s resignations have only proven just how disconnected the organization is. I bet the director happily rubs his hands and shouts “Good Riddance” in his richest baritone. There has already been more hype and interest in unruly tourists than anything New Zealand opera has done in years. It must be a good thing.