When talking to those unfamiliar with opera, I’ve noticed that individuals new to the genre tend to sense this invisible wall between themselves and all things revolving around opera. Perhaps its just me, but I get the sense that many people assume that an average night at the opera consists of prancing around the city with your yuppy friends, spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars, while we all revel in the majesty of high art and grade A/high caliber/ snobbery.
Is this a typical opera night of some? For me, no; but for others, sure. I think part of the appeal of opera is that, not only is the music beautiful, but so too are the elements revolving around the opera. The admiration for the genre doesn’t stop with the music, but rather, it seeps into the fashion of the show’s attendees, lingers around the aroma of fine food and wine, and is complimented by the sophisticated talk of its patrons. In short, the opera scene can be sexy, sophisticated and certainly intimidating as all hell. These combined elements can result in an amazing evening, but in regards to opera outreach, it may, in some sense, come with a price.
When considering the average perception of opera by today’s person, I wonder if it might do opera a favor to, now and then, ditch the suit and tie, lose the evening gown, and simply allow the public to sit back and appreciate the genre with a cold beer. Tempo’s Opera On Tap (October 18, 2012) captures this idea. It’s casual, it’s relaxed, and you are more than welcome to grace us all with your finest jeans and t-shirt.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the wine, I love the food, and everyone looking their best. But for me, true opera outreach is about exposure and accessibility. With a public perception focused a bit more on everyday living, and a bit less on champagne and black ties; I wonder if the culture of opera should do the same.
- Tempo Board Member Colin Dickau