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A Cold Wind Blows from Europe

This morning on the BBC World Service, English National Opera artistic director John Berry discussed a work they’ll be premiering in England, and not–though they’ve been partnering with the Met in New York–here in the U.S. I missed the beginning of the piece, so unfortunately can’t say what it is (my guess is that it’s the operatic version of David Lynch’s Lost Highway that just opened at the Young Vic, but please correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, the production isn’t really the point, although if it is the Lynch piece, it would certainly make sense as a U.S. opening.

What was striking about the conversation was Berry’s reason for a European debut: in London and around Europe there are many voices in the media weighing in on opera. In the U.S.–New York and Chicago were the examples he gave–there are one or two very opinionated voices. What this means is that a sour note from one of those few U.S. critics can pretty much sink a show, while in Europe, where the form is taken seriously by news outlets, new productions are treated as a valid subject for public debate and enthusiasm, and all those voices, while no less opinionated, are at least less concentrated.

If the decline in opera coverage in the U.S. has a chilling effect on producers, you can expect to see that cold wind blow across all artistic disciplines, as more and more papers and magazines lay off critics and staffers and cut their arts coverage in print and online. The situation at the English National Opera provides concrete proof of the public and economic good served by having a multitude of regular arts critics and journalists on staff.

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One Response

  1. It is more a decline in creativity. Literature is the same in the US.

    Let’s publish more books about the lives of prominent figures. more distortions of the truth, more thrillers written for six grade intelligence. Let’s not create something – but alter other peoples creations.

    No Art for Arts sake… The chill wind which blows is a Wind of contempt and it stops at Bermuda…..

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