A scene from the opera Dark Sisters by Nico Muhly (photo: Pittsburgh Opera)
At times we treat certain art forms as a closed set. Complete. We want our reliable standards and nothing more, nothing new. Opera has this challenge. Treating the creative period of opera as if it were behind us, we put it into a museum for preservation. Yet why do we resist the new in opera, while embracing new works in other arts like film, visual arts, and music? Composer Nico Muhly gives us reason to support the creation of new work. Yes, we have to preserve the masterpieces of the past and keep presenting them on stage. Yet we should also cultivate a creative environment that encourages artists to create within these great forms.
Read on for an argument on Nico Muhly as a case study for why we need our organizations and our audiences to be a part of the creative process, in “Nico Muhly, Dark Sisters and the Case for New Opera” (click here to read full article).
Joseph Gaines, the Story of Opera and of an Artist
Joseph Gaines as Pontio Pilato in the 2008 Glimmerglass Opera production of Wagner’s Das Liebesverbot, with Ryan MacPherson as Luzio (Photo: Cory Weaver)
Artists pursue a calling in a special way, yearning to participate in an art form often in the face of long odds for making a career of it. What is an artist to do if their calling is opera? Opera has faced some difficult times in recent years, and it is facing an uncertain future. Yet if it is to have a future at all, it must depend on those with unwavering commitment to realizing the form — to celebrating past masters and new works, and to bringing those creative expressions to an audience. Joseph Gaines, a tenor, seeks to serve an art form that he truly loves. In telling his story, we seek to both learn something about the form itself and about the admirable motivations of the artist, motivations from which we might all learn something even if we ourselves are not artists.
To learn of a good narrative about a career artist and to reflect on the nature of opera, we invite you to read our third installment in the opera series from The Muse Dialogue, “Joseph Gaines, the Story of Opera and of an Artist” (click here to read full article).
“That Was Not What I Was Expecting”
A scene from the Pittsburgh Opera production of La Cenerentola (Photo: Pittsburgh Opera)
The Muse Dialogue turns attention now to opera and opens a series with consideration of the barrier of our own presumptions and misconceptions. Opera is among the longstanding art forms now in a state of transition, evolving as it faces the current era of the arts. One of opera’s challenges is surely our own notion of what it is, an often misinformed bias. Andrew Swensen writes, “Opera might well stand at the top of the list of art forms deserving your good-faith effort to dispel preconceptions. You might find yourself having what is perhaps the most frequent response of first-timers: “That was not what I was expecting.”” Along the way, we have the thoughts of Christopher Hahn, the General Director of the Pittsburgh Opera, and a reflection on Richard Wagner’s responsibility for one of opera’s great cliches.
Join us for the first in a series on opera: “That Was Not What I Was Expecting”: To Get to Opera We Must First Get Past Ourselves” (click here to read full article).
Some [Don’t] Like it Hot: A Perspective on Targeting Young Audiences, Part II
Kelly Englert continues her consideration of how younger generations are engaging older art forms. In the second part of her series, she takes the conversation to the world of opera, with consideration both for the Pittsburgh Opera and the Metropolitan Opera of New York City. The world of opera will need to adapt in order to engage these new audiences, but the question is how. Englert explores some of the changes and the considers the necessity of innovation in a world of art now centuries old.
Read more in, “Some [Don’t] Like it Hot: A Perspective on Targeting Young Audiences, Part II.” (click to view full article)
Some [Don't] Like It Hot: A Perspective on Targeting Young Audiences, Part I
Kate Aldrich as Carmen and Roger Honeywell as Don Jose in the Pittsburgh Opera production of Carmen (Photo: Pittsburgh Opera)
Kelly Englert continues our series on connecting younger generations with the arts. She explores the model of PITT ARTS, an initiative at the University of Pittsburgh, which cultivates arts experiences among students. She writes, “Some classical performance arts like ballet and opera have been around for centuries and still endure in our culture. However, as cultural gaps between generations grow wider and wider and new technologies constantly evolve our interests and the way we experience art and music, what does the near future hold for the fate of these and other “traditional” arts? Are these organizations successfully attracting a young audience?” Good questions indeed. Read on and share what she learned when she investigated possible answers in an innovative program that exists in order to connect young adults and the arts.
Click here to read the full text of her article.