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23 Comments • Jul 31, 2014 3967

Bring on Brandis’ national opera review

You might think the Coalition must be really serious about arts funding cuts when it zeroes in on four of the country’s opera companies with today’s formally announced inquiry into their combined $32 million a year taxpayer paid funding.

The accepted wisdom is that opera is an art form for silvertails; people who can afford to drop $200 or more for a good seat at the Sydney Opera House to see an Opera Australia production sung in a language that isn’t theirs while wearing bad wigs.

So why is Attorney-General Senator George Brandis targeting an art form patronised by so many of his fellow travellers and enjoyed by Alan Jones?

Remember that the Howard Government loved the so-called “heritage arts” so much so that in 2004 it gave $7.2 million to a very small, but blue-blood connected outfit to produce classical music recordings.

The then arts minister Senator Richard Alston approved the funding to the Melba Foundation (and later joined its board). Furious Australia Council staff only learned of the hand-out after the deal was done. The Labor government finally cut Melba’s funding in 2012.

But no-one should be too surprised by the National Opera Review which promises to take a good look at Opera Australia, Opera Queensland, State Opera of South Australia and West Australian Opera. Governments want to know their money is well spent,  and the conservatives have shown that they are not afraid to be radical in their approach to arts funding — and opera in particular.

Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett was one of the masterminds behind folding the Victoria State Opera into the Australian Opera to become Opera Australia in 1996. Even now there are resentful mumblings among VSO faithful who include many of Melbourne’s moneyed.

And it was the Howard Government in 1999 that commissioned banker Helen Nugent to come up with a business plan to save the country’s 31 major arts organisations from increased costs and dwindling income. Her landmark “Securing the Future’’ report saw an extra $70 million given to the arts, but it made the companies more self-sufficient in the long run.

This National Opera Review is pretty light-on in detail other than to say it will examine the four companies’ artistic vibrancy, audience engagement and financials. But under Helen Nugent’s guidance this review has potential to be similarly disruptive – and again, in a good way.

There are many in the arts who resent the large slice of the funding pie the opera companies get when they attract such small audiences. The Live Performance Australia 2012 report into ticket attendance and revenue nationwide showed that in that year (all) opera had 2.6% share of the industry compared to theatre’s 9.8 % and contemporary music’s 33.7 %.

The report also showed that in 2004 there were 630,000 opera attendances, but by 2012 this had declined to just 430,000 attendances (with more than 50 % of those in NSW).

If you went by the numbers alone then opera would be kaput. How to justify such a spend for such a small return? But then again, maybe that small return has something to do with the fact that opera prices are routinely much, much higher than for most other art forms.

And maybe, despite the best recent efforts of Opera Australia, those who work in these companies are not doing the best job they could in communicating the excitement that opera genuinely offers punters in its melding of music, voice, dance, art, design and poetry.

Kids flocking to laneway dives to see indie-queer theatre collectives’ cross-gender, all male versions of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? or Wuthering Heights 0.2: On Ice might be surprised by the similarities such shows have to some mainstream opera productions.

Opera, believe it or not, is one of the most adventurous and resilient of art forms which is why it has endured for 400 years and why it is continually re-invented by ground-breaking musicians, designers, performers and directors.

The review panel (which includes esteemed former artistic director of the Australian Opera, Moffatt Oxenbould) one assumes, will be looking at how to get the most out of the resources these four companies are working with,  and how they can best conceive, commission, create and stage work that will engage more artists and more audiences.

That’s why George Brandis’ review — whether you love opera or think you loathe it — is a good idea.

Featured image: Cheryl Barker in Opera Australia’s Helpmann Award-winning production of Salome. Photo by Jeff Busby.
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23 Responses to Bring on Brandis’ national opera review

  1. Nicholas Houston says:

    Reading the review wants to make me say fu*k the arts and the arts industry. You are pet poodles of the government, and the funding buys your silence. The only art that matters has a social connection. But hey, long live George Brandis and all he represents.

    I want to see the poodle bite the hand that muzzles it, and bite hard. Unlikely!

    We are all Liberals then aren’t we?

    I am unsubscribing.

  2. Scott Redford says:

    All opera should get no Government funding. If the rich want it they should pay for all of it. I mean Lady Gaga tickets cost $200 and over and the Government doesn’t fund that. Opera is for the rich and they surely have enough money to pay for it completely. Like private schools, stop funding it.

    • Annabel Mayo says:

      Really sad to hear that you think no-one could like Lady Gaga AND La Bohème. It’s not just for the rich. I’m not and I love opera. Have done since I was12 and went to see the Magic Flute and later Tales of Hoffman. Then later in my teens seeing Carmen and Rigoletto sealed it for me. To some extent poorer people are excluded from all theatre and public music events whether it is Lion King or Pink. Currently the cheapest tickets to King and I will set you back $49 and the range is up to $308.50. Try taking your family to that as a part-time employed single parent!
      Any other concert (including Gaga) is out of the question for many who would enjoy it.

    • Matto says:

      Yes that’s right mate. Let’s stop government funding to everything that YOU don’t like, understand or use. That’s a brilliant idea.
      What (if anything) are you thinking?
      Any idea of how many performers are involved in opera?

      • Scott Redford says:

        Hi I myself get lots of Government funding but mine is for free to the public fine art and in reality when I add up the money I put in Over the years I find, even with the funding, I still pay the bulk of it as I don’t factor in my wage. Of course people are employed in Opera as they are at Gaga concerts. And yes people can like both but I just question who is Opera for. Many, many smaller and artist run initiatives have had their funding totally cut by Governments but the big end of Kulture has been left alone OR received dubious big one off grants. This idea that Opera is some fragile flower that needs protection is wrong. If you give millions to Opera you should give millions to Gaga concerts AND even more millions to small struggling startups run by artists and others with their own money, usually in regional areas. Opera has always been a symbol of elite power and this should be acknowledged and seen for what it is.

  3. Roger Clifton says:

    The survival of Opera has a lot to do with its enduring snobbery, the importance of being seen at a performance. A better measure of its public valuation than the sales of seats would be the sales of full-length recordings. Yawn…

    However we do enjoy highlights from Opera. If instead, productions offered “Highlights of (whichever)”, they would be able to attract a wider audience to a cheaper venue. Who knows, they might even be self funding.

  4. Geraldine Hague says:

    Blind prejudice. Have any of these turkeys actually BEEN to the opera? Where is their evidence that the audience is comprised of rich snobs? That ticket prices are high? I suppose that means that Lady Gaga audiences are also rich snobs. Opera is a great art form that has survived for centuries and will continue whether or not they get off their bums, open their minds, and see what’s in it for them. As to the subsidies, they make survival possible for the companies. By European standards, they are modest. They do indeed eat a lot of the arts funding pie in Australia but that’s mainly because the rest of the pie is so miserly.

  5. Glen says:

    I see Opera Aus is touring Flute to Murwillumbah this month, of all places. Wouldn’t be so we can tick a country town without venturing more than 20 minutes from an international airport, would it? (Mur-bah was a certain J.W. Howard’s favourite country photo-op, for similar reasons.) Why not tour the nationally funded opera to where the nation actually lives, and with an offering beyond fairy floss.

    • Anthony says:

      The OA tour is heading to Murwillumbah courtesy of the hard work and dedication of one of the artists who grew up there. He wanted to take the performance to his own town and I believe he is funding the performance himself.

      Good on him!

    • Adrian K says:

      OA tours to places like Mur-bah as part of its EDUCATION outreach program for community AND school age children. Do your homework before making presumptive negative statements!

  6. Tony Kevin says:

    IMO, the AO in Sydney is having its finest year that I can remember and I have been attending operas there for many years. Madame Butterfly, Carmen, Eugen Onegin and Otello were all first class in every way. And now I look forward to Don Giovanni. Last year I saw the Ring cycle in Melbourne- brilliant. There is nothing like live opera. Long may it live.

  7. I think there is no need for any commentator to be derisive of another.

    The Arts are as diverse as people’s tastes. I fail to be stimulated by either opera or Lady Gaga and, as a working class pensioner, I could never afford to pay $200 for a ticket, even if I were.

    Snobbery is not uncommon in many areas of the Arts; it is not exclusive to opera. It is, however, one of the associations that mitigates against opera being more widely appreciated. For many working-class people, that very association with the wealthy; with smart (and expensive) clothing; and with “sophistication”; will raise sufficient discomfort or “out of place” feeling to dissuade them from even trying opera.

    That Opera is generally only available at relatively high prices and in capital cities or major centres is clearly also a disincentive or else an outright obstacle for many who don’t live in those places or have limited funds.

    Another major obstacle for many is the “mystique” of opera that rests in the story-telling, usually sung in another language and, even if in English, often barely decipherable because of the manner of singing, particularly when the part is taken by a Soprano.

    Were opera to be as readily available, even, as theatre and not so esoteric and associated with wealth and “sophistication” – even if that is only what some recognise as very much affectation – and if there were no language barrier and greater general understanding of the stories, then there may well be greater interest and attendance.

    Such is not the case, however, so the fact is that opera remains predominantly an art form of extremely limited appeal and one whose characteristics are as likely to be unappealing to most as they are stimulating and appreciated by some.

    Although I have little interest in and poor direct knowledge of opera, having only seen it filmed or televised, I do believe that all art forms have their place and that diversity is as important in the Arts as it is in other areas of society. For that reason I favour state support, where it is given, to be shared equitably and, to me, that means sponsoring or subsidising the young, the developing, the new, the experimental and the controversial as well as the established and putting the funds where there is least ability for those art forms to survive without support. Opera clearly is of limited appeal and supported well by the wealthy and I would argue is in a far better position to support itself than are many other less established but similarly niche art forms. It is also reasonable, in my view, to expect that what is subsidised by the state should be broadly coincident with what taxpayers value because it is they that provide the funds being distributed – not the government, which despite its self delusion, is only a caretaker and distributor of those funds on behalf of the people.

    In my view, the value of any review undertaken under the auspices of George Brandis will be of doubtful merit. George Brandis is an Attorney-General who has demeaned the office by, amongst other things, advocating bigotry as a right and by showing his disdain for the judicial system with his intention to reverse the fundamental principle of “Innocent until proven guilty” in relation to Australians returning to Australia from countries in which organisations exist that the LNP consider to be “terrorist”. This man has credibility neither in his own right nor as a senior minister in a government that has clearly demonstrated its alliance to the wealthy; its disregard for other citizens and worse still, its abuse and demonising of the disadvantaged; its environmental vandalism bordering on the criminal; and its failure to honour international conventions & obligations in relation to refugees.

    The Arts are an essential component of a thriving, diverse and democratic society. George Brandis represents none of these things. This review is highly unlikely to be of any benefit to any other than those favoured by Brandis, Abbott & the LNP.

    That’s why George Brandis’ review — whether you love opera or think you loathe it — is NOT a good idea.

  8. Kevin Herbert says:

    Tony Kevin:

    you must be one of the 0.00008 Aussies who follow Opera…..I suggest opera should receive that amount of arts funding

  9. David says:

    I’m sorry, but I am still trying to understand why the Attorney General has been tasked, or taken on the task, of an audit of companies in the arts portfolio.

  10. Melbourne Opera Lover says:

    The article states: “…maybe that small return has something to do with the fact that opera prices are routinely much, much higher than for most other art forms.”

    To say opera prices are “much, much higher than for most other art forms” is simply not accurate. Tickets for opera performances fall well within the general range of similar, comparable, high-end productions. Here are some ticket prices for comparison:
    Opera Australia (Tosca) – $60, 100, 130, 180, 250 (ave. $144)
    Victorian Opera (General) – $45, 60, 80, 145 (ave. $107)

    Compare this with:
    Australian Ballet – $39, 96, 106, 126, 133, 153, 168 (ave. $117)
    Wicked! (Musical Theatre) – $90, 100, 130, 150 (ave. $117)
    Justin Timberlake – $100, 180, 220, 280 (ave. $195)

    It is also not accurate (as least in Melbourne) to say that opera audiences are small and dwindling. In the last 2 years, every single Opera Australia and Victorian Opera performance I have attended (10 productions in total) has been completely sold out or nearly sold out.

    In a time when the art form is under review, accurate, data-based reporting and opinions are crucial.

    • Ben Neutze Ben Neutze says:

      Melbourne Opera Lover,

      You’ve been selective with your prices here. VO’s Traviata was between $50 and $180 – http://www.victorianopera.com.au/what-s-on/past-productions/la-traviata/

      OA has higher prices for opera in Sydney – tickets for Don Giovanni range between $70 and $325 – http://opera.org.au/whatson/events/dongiovannisydney

      Comparing a subsidised company like OA with Wicked or Justin Timberlake doesn’t hold much weight when you consider that they are both commercial, non-subsidised performances. Does a subsidised company have an obligation to ensure they’re accessible, in terms of price? I’d argue that they do.

      And this line is data-based reporting, which demonstrates that opera has a small audience – “The Live Performance Australia 2012 report into ticket attendance and revenue nationwide showed that in that year (all) opera had 2.6% share of the industry compared to theatre’s 9.8 % and contemporary music’s 33.7 %.” – which holds greater weight as evidence than observing sold out performances.

    • Lyn says:

      Totally agree with Melbourne Opera Lover. Re costs young people may even pay more to attend concerts by visiting overseas rock or pop stars.
      Will also add that all arts have a role in society in enhancing people’s well being, understanding of human nature, providing employment and tourism etc etc.

  11. Felix says:

    Without funding, there will be a Sydney Opera House without opera. Opera will not be performed. It will disappear. When a child or young adult discovers they have an incredible voice with the talent and skill for opera, it won’t matter, because there will be no-one to listen.

    Opera is expensive. That’s it. It simply is. Why? Because it requires so many people.

    When you go to the Theatre to see a play, you are seeing usually a maximum of about 10 people on stage. Some stage hands, lighting people, directors, costumes, wigs, props, all the necessary theatrical accoutrements. For your $119 max price, that’s what you’re getting – with funding.

    When you see a musical, you’re seeing probably 20-30 people on stage; 7 or major roles, and an ensemble of 20 odd dancers/singers. Maybe more, maybe less. Plus another 10-20 people in the musical department – instrumentalists, conductors. Plus increased numbers of backstage accoutrements – wigs, props, costume, makeup, sound design, technical etc. For your $150 max price, with no funding.

    When you go to the opera and see a great, popular, well selling opera like Carmen or Aida, you are seeing well over 50 people people on stage. Carmen: chorus probably of 50 or so, some actors, dancers, major leading roles: that’s going to be about 70 people all up. In the orchestra? About 60 more people or so. And the comparatively increased number of people offstage to make it all happen: wigs, makeup, costume, props, technical, lighting, highly skilled musicians in preparation, etc etc. Aida, your chorus would be bigger. Wagner, your orchestra would be bigger. So that’s 130 – 170 people just on stage and in the pit, before you even walk in the door. For your ticket price of maximum c.$300.

    You can’t do it with less. You can’t have a chorus of 10 people, an orchestra of 10 people. You just can’t do it. It doesn’t work. It’s not some imaginary thing that opera just spends money because it’s something wealthy people do. It’s a function of the art form.

    Opera is expensive.

    I guess there’s a decision to make here. Do we simply want as a nation to abandon this as a cultural pursuit? To have our landmark opera house sitting there with no opera? If that’s the decision, then it will happen. It will be sad, and Australia will be a cultural backwater, without question.

  12. Shaun says:

    Felix hits the nail on the head.
    I would add that opera in Australia trains and employs a huge number of highly-trained people, predominantly Australians, and… on a permanent basis!

    In this regard there’s no comparable employer, certainly not pop concerts and other ‘one offs’ that largely bring their own ‘management’ and ‘crews’.
    Fly-in-fly-out operations usually only hire local ‘muscle’ to get from place and set up.

    As, or more importantly, permanent companies such as Opera Australia train employees, hundreds of them, many of whom go on to work in other, possibly more ‘populist’ areas of entertainment.

    Beyond the singers, actors and musicians that the audience see and hear in performance, beyond the directors and conductors you applaud… there are the music staff who train the singers, stage managers (who rehearse everything and synchronise everyone), scenic painters and construction staff, props makers and maintenance folk, costume and wig makers and maintenance staff, lighting and sound technicians, ‘mechanists’ (who get the sets to and from storage, and on and off stage), ‘fly’men and women (who ‘rig’ scenery so that it can sail down from the heavens), storage facilities and staff… the administrators, marketing and ticketing people, the staff running the venues themselves (you’ll need them in a fire)… on and on I could go.
    I do not exaggerate when I say that hundreds, if not thousands of people are employed, mostly full time, to bring opera (and dance, and theatre) to audiences.
    All these people contribute to the cultural ‘bottom line’ of our country… and… note to Mr. Brandis… they contribute to revenue (taxes), and they vote!

    Most importantly of all:-
    As with the finely-honed training capabilities and resultant experience engendered within the ABC (another much-maligned bastion of arts training in Australia), I can tell you from personal experience that gaining employment with Opera Australia stands one in extremely good stead throughout a career in the arts.
    It’s well known that if you can succeed in your chosen field within the most difficult, infuriating, complicated, time-consuming, under-paid, exhilarating and rewarding art form – you can work and succeed anywhere, in almost any related field.

    Any loss to that expectation will be to the detriment of cultural life.. all cultural life, including ‘light’ entertainment, in Australia.

  13. Shaun says:

    To Roger Hawcroft, above…

    You say..
    “Another major obstacle for many is the “mystique” of opera that rests in the story-telling, usually sung in another language and, even if in English, often barely decipherable because of the manner of singing…”

    Since the early 1980′s Opera Australia have used what are called ‘surtitles’ (like subtitles for non-english-speaking films, but shown above the stage opening).
    They are there for those who find the ‘story’ hard to follow. (*)

    Although… I give you the ‘tip’.. it’s better to listen to an opera you like on the ABC, become familiar with the music, look up the ‘story’ before you go, and then let the experience wash over you. It’s worth the preparation, and it’s fun.

    (*) I forgot these guys in my earlier list… the surtitles people are ALSO employed by opera companies, sorry guys.

  14. Shaun, I wasn’t aware of the “surtitles” and can accept that this would help in some small part to offset the obstacle you chose to quote. However, it doesn’t really address the substance of what I tried to portray by using the word “mystique”.

    The majority of people that I know do not (and often *will not*) watch foreign language films, even though they have subtitles. Admittedly, I am from the poorer end of the community where, as I indicated in other comments, there are other factors that mitigate against uptake or interest in opera. Personally, I have enjoyed many foreign language films, despite having to depend on subtitles for understanding but the need to read is still something of an impediment to my being able to “lose” myself in the film. Although I haven’t attempted to find hard evidence to support my view, I think it is not an accident that sub-titled productions are generally only shown in “Arts” cinemas or on the more niche television channels such as SBS or ABC 2.

    I can appreciate the value of the preparation process you suggest for learning to appreciate and enjoy the experience of opera and for those who want to become more familiar with and who enjoy the theatrical pageantry of opera, I imagine that would be good advice to take up.

    I’d still, however, suggest that opera is a particularly niche art form and that it is never likely to be anything else. I accept that there has been some considered and useful steps towards increasing opera’s accessibility and I commend this. Contrarily, although I feel that it should be more accessible, particularly if it is community funded, there is a part of me that would hate to see opera lose some of those very aspects that do mitigate against its more wide-spread appreciation. I don’t feel comfortable saying this and I feel that I’m very likely to be castigated by some for suggesting it but, to me, there is a sense in which I feel it is good that we have niche art forms and followers. Although I have never related to the non-reality of musicals, let alone the silly costumes and squealing of opera, I know that for some it provides real pleasure and that for those who perform there is dedication and often inspired performance. For that reason I would hate to see any of those aspects diluted in pursuit of wider audiences.

    If I might divert for a moment, I’d like to give an example of what I mean from the world of computing. I have used Apple computers from the earliest days and continued to do so when their shares slumped to $28 and their doom was widely fore-cast. I am one of a group of very dedicated Apple and particularly Mac users who have valued the excellence in combination of aesthetics, stability, software and hardware integration, and quality performance that has been Apple’s hallmark. We were glad that Apple was a niche product compared with the ubiquity of the competition of mediocre IBM clones. We didn’t care that some people couldn’t appreciate the difference, in fact, it was a sort of protection against lowered standards.

    Perhaps readers will feel it a strange comparison but, by reverting to its original approach of uncompromising quality & integration, ironically, Apple has reached a mass market *without* sacrificing quality – it has gathered support for quality over price. I don’t suggest that this is a perfect analogy for the opera situation but simply that good practice and a good product don’t necessarily have to change to succeed. I guess opera has proved that by its longevity of support over hundreds of years.

    I’m sorry, your response to my comments has caused me to divert from the original topic which was, of course, the Brandis review. In that regard, for the reasons I cited earlier, I think that it will not be useful. George Brandis has shown himself to be an unscrupulous, unethical, man of anachronistic and discredited attitude who supports bigotry and believes that abortion causes breast cancer. How can we possibly hope to get rational and equitable decision making from such a man? I don’t believe that it is possible.

  15. Shaun says:

    Roger,
    I came back ‘into’ Crikey to see if anyone had posted an early ‘review’ of a concert I went to this evening, and I’m glad I checked to see if anyone had written anything more about opera.
    Thanks for your considered and interesting reply.
    I’ll try not to waffle on this time… but I think my experience this evening is quite illustrative of a few of ‘our’ points.
    Just because I had my first career in the ‘theatre’ world, it doesn’t mean I don’t sympathise with those who just don’t ‘get’ opera.
    As an aside… the day I discovered I had my first opera job, I put down the phone and asked myself why I’d accepted it… “Why did I do that? I hate all that screetching”
    To say that the following years changed my view would be an understatement, I came to be one who ‘danced’ in the wings and often shed a tear at the sheer exhilaration of seeing (and hearing) humans reach for the sublime. No, not every attempt was successful, but when it was… genuinely something not to be left off one’s ‘bucket list’.

    Of course, I’m aware that few in Australia are brought up with classical music these days (I wasn’t by the way), and a tiny percentage of people are fortunate enough to have the ‘schooling’ I received. That’s not the case in most European countries, opera certainly isn’t “niche” there. Everyone turns up, they are remarkably knowledgeable, and more than happy to express their displeasure if they decide they haven’t witnessed a good performance.
    It will take a long time for Australians to ‘catch’ the desire to be swept away on tides of music, if ever.

    I do agree with you, I know the term “elite” is used as a pejorative these days… but I constantly campaign for the word’s rehabilitation… I see nothing wrong with excellence, I only wish it were made available to more people.
    I think opera is an elite art form, and I think we are on the same page in seeing value in our society for it, and other of the more “niche”… or possibly eccentric (?) pursuits.

    I’m in two minds as to whether opera should be coerced into trying to reach a wider audience (Opera Australia do a lot actually) – and I take your analogy re quality in technology… rising tide floats all boats etc.

    Here’s an idea… Opera Australia offer ‘student rush’ seats for $50 an hour before the performance. I’d like them to offer those seats to anyone and everyone, especially concession card holders, pensioners, and the unemployed… More importantly, I’d like to see those seats become available at 9am on the day of the performance, and one should be able to book them online. I’m sure there will be some ‘marketing’ reason they don’t want to do it… but I bet there would be ‘bums on seats’ (and future audiences) in it for them. The powers that be need to realise that people can’t just travel into town, with all the fuss and expense that entails on the ‘off chance’ of perhaps NOT getting a seat.

    As to Mr. Brandis’ review, I have my doubts if he would be able to see past K row in the stalls (usually the most expensive seats… where the ‘social’ and wealthier people tend to sit – or those of us who save up to go once or twice a year). I don’t think his imagination would be up to much either, that’s why I think his ‘review’ will merely be another cost-cutting exersize.

    May I give you another ‘tip’? As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I’m an evangelist for this art form… if I can be converted, in my callow 20′s, anyone can!
    May I suggest (and don’t tell the opera snobs, or the ant-opera snobs, both will try and put you off…):

    a) Free…Listen to some UTube clips, start with tenors and baritones (less ‘screetchy’ .. I myself have trouble listening to anyone but the best sopranos, my ear always found the high registers quite difficult).
    I’ll try and put some links at the bottom of this for you to start with)…

    b) Bit more…get a Jonas Kauffman CD – he’s the tenor I heard tonight… possibly not his best performance ever, but my god… what a beautiful voice!! A genuine pleasure and privilege to listen a vocal ‘instrument’ of that calibre – might as well start with a ‘modern’ tenor.

    c) Listen to a whole opera… one you liked the music from the clips… then you can ‘listen out’ for your ‘tunes’ (free on radio, or CD on loan from the library)

    d) Concert version – Opera in the Domain happens every summer (free)
    That way, you’ll get the music, but skip the “silly costumes” (fie on you… good ones are works of art, he he… but I digress)…

    THEN come to an opera.

    Aw… c’mon Roger… give it a whirl… not everything regarding the ‘willing suspension of disbelief” has to be light-weight ( or sensible) to be enjoyed, or worthwhile in the grand scheme of things.
    I hope to see you there!

    By the way, our local orchestra gave a great account of themselves tonight as well… are you listening Mr. Brandis? Fantastic work from the orchestra leader in her solo piece… lots of employees up there!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GVRoRILVD4 ‘E lucevan le stele’ Tosca (Puccini) In concert

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylZ66fByq1Q&list=RDylZ66fByq1Q&index=1 (the same as above but In performance… I think both the voice and the drama are better…)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Op7RmV7S3c&index=14&list=RDylZ66fByq1Q ‘Vogliatemi bene’ Duet Madam Butterfly (Puccini)
    Now THIS clip is interesting… see all those normal people in their T-shirts and jeans Roger… ordinary folk doing extraordinary things…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2MwnHpLV48 Duet from The Pearlfishers (Bizet)… just because the mix of the two voices is … fab!

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