Peter Gelb: Opera is suffering from education failures

From a soft interview with ZealNYC:

Opera is an old art form, it is in foreign languages, and is typically longer than movies and plays. It is more challenging for an audience, particularly an audience that doesn’t already know about opera. With a lack of classical music education, it is very difficult to overcome those obstacles, those barriers.

On the other hand, it doesn’t stop us from trying everyday.

Realist or defeatist?

Read on here.


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  • If the man thinks such simplistic and false things about “Opera” then I think it’s time for him to stand down from leading the most important Opera House on planet earth. What a nitwit. Seriously, the guy has to go. There must be someone out there that actually understands, gets and believes in opera and who can turn around that quickly sinking ship. Surely ENO is an example to us all that a great company can fail.

    • For most stupid people his answers are simplistic… it is a realist speaking to
      the problem ….which in truth is being educated indoctrinated whatever you want
      to call it to the art form ….

    • In much of Europe opera is doing rather well. The Met is not the world, though it may be symptomatic of the problems of US classical music

  • Yet more spin from a man who does not know what he is doing and should never have been appointed. No doubt excuse will continue to follow excuse as his audience revenues decline and as long as his misguided and clearly ineffectual Board permits him to remain in the job.

  • So then, forget running an opera company, he should be heading up a national music education program in the American schools!

  • I don’t see anyone addressing the National Endowment for the Arts audience survey, in the clickthrough article. For U.S. adults, between 2002 and 2012:

    – classical music audience down 16%
    – ballet down 23%
    – opera audience down 27%

    These seems consistent with my earlier observation or guesstimate that there is no commercially significant audience younger than 55 for these musics in the US.

    Europe appears to be on a different trajectory.

  • Reading the whole article, rather than NL’s extract, it seems that the real problem with Gelb is that he wants to be the artistic director (and sees that as part of his role) rather than the manager of the business side of the operation. He doesn’t understand that his job is to support the artistic director and to offer some commercial insight in doing so. I suspect having Levine in his condition there meant Gelb had rather more artistic input than is really desirable.

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