Tuesday, March 21, 2006

It's an opera. (Don't tell anyone.)

One challenge with opera is that the repertoire, while extensive, doesn't have any "new classics."

Even people who don't know opera probably have heard of the opera ABCs: Aida, La Boheme (and Madame Butterfly) and Carmen.

In Sunday's New York Times, a story detailed a slew of new operas either recent or scheduled for performances in the next year.

They may or may not become classics.

For the most part, they're familiar titles -- even if they're new operas:

Little Women. Dead Man Walking. Lysistratra. A Streetcar Named Desire.

Will it work? Who knows. Maybe more familiar material will bring opera back into the popular arts field, rather than the rarified air it's been breathing. That seems to be happening. More and more young people are discovering the joys of grand opera.

After all, what is opera except strong plots presented through brilliant costumes, extravagant sets and singing. Kind of sounds like musical theater, doesn't it.

Still, old fears die hard.

One opera company president had a novel idea about his company's 2003 opera based on Margaret Atwood's book, The Handmaid's Tale.

"Let's just say it's a theatricalization of {the novel}," he said. "Once you say it's an opera, people get scared."

- Michael K

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