London art gallery breaks into opera

From Time Out:

… London gallery Zabludowicz Collection is launching a new event series that hopes to challenge what it means to stage an opera, and who gets to be a part of one. The programme is still in the works, but the idea is to ‘commandeer’ this cultural tradition and turn it into unpredictable, fragmented and politically charged performance-art pieces. 

At Hot with Excess: A Season of Contemporary Artists’ Opera there will be no familiar pattern of overtures and arias, or the ‘da dum dum dum’ of Carmen’s ‘Habanera’. Instead, you’ll have artists like Trulee Hall delivering a psychosexual production exploring fetishes through song, described by Hall as a ‘mental, spiritual and physical on-stage orgy’. …

Read on here.

 

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  • It sounds like “performance art,” a genre I avoid like the plague as it always seems to be pretentious, self-obsessed and boring. But chacun à son goût — I have no desire to stop it, just to avoid it.

    This tripey-sounding rubbish may appeal to some people who are old-fashioned enough to still consider that there is such a thing as “avant-garde.” But why it has to be characterised as “opera” is beyond me.

    There is some legitimacy to the claim that opera (and classical concerts) come over as formal, elitist, etc. It is the duty of companies and orchestras to reach out and show that it is not so, and though many have good outreach programmes — of which this sort of thing would never be one — they are still being defeated by two things: prohibitive prices for seats from which you can actually see anything, and the attitude of other members of the audience.

    Without education in good music, starting early, and exposure to it through radio and television and films, it is difficult for many people to appreciate the wonders of an evening of Wagner or Verdi or Handel or Britten in an opera house.

    But I have seen people wander into the opera or concert hall after things like free concerts or operas or excerpts from operas in the park in summer, or after the free-will donation concerts held regularly around my city where there are usually some evenings or lunch-hours of opera excerpts included a few times a season. This sort of thing — the real thing, in affordable, informal and introductory form — is a way of reaching out to people for whom the thought of dressing up and going to Rigoletto sounds a bit intimidating.

    It is not the music that scares people off (usually — the rap crowd seem to be increasingly tone-deaf). it is the trappings. There is a lot less attitude to overcome in Glasgow, where opera seems affordable and able to draw a very mixed crowd, than in London, at least at the ROH. The ENO for all its sins, has a more welcoming vibe.

    But this Time-Out thingy — yikes. Is this wokery at its wokest? If so pass the sleeping pills.

    • Do people still dress up for the opera? It seems an odd thing to do, if you ask me. The only requirement, surely, is to be reasonably clean and tidy, and to try to avoid annoying or disturbing the other people in the audience.

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