We are in for a lovely benign September week as indicated by the view from my west facing dining room this evening! This will include such delights as the return of the CSO with Muti, and the final stages of the Lyric's preparation for the opening of their season on October 1. Meanwhile I am getting concerned about some of the big worries of our business.
Our old friend from Chicago, Jim Palermo, who was such a brilliant director of the Grant Park Festival, is going through the mill in Denver where he has been CEO since only March of last year of the Colorado Symphony. Orchestras and opera companies around the company are seeking solutions to their problems which end up by being damaging to their primary purpose which is to do good stuff. Our hearts go out to Jim who appears to have taken on an ugly struggle. If anyone is up to it he is!
At our very jolly wedding party on Saturday I had a revealing conversation with a knowledgeable and enthusiastic long term opera goer. She was raving, quite rightly, about the remarkable job the Metropolitan Opera does in bringing the HD video versions of their productions to movie house around the country. She is an avid attender at these.
However, it transpires that this same intelligent, knowledgeable, cultivated (and not short of money) lady has given up her subscriptions to the Lyric Opera and COT. She is content to satisfy her needs by bumbling along to the movie house in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. Now since Evanston is the home of Northwestern University, by reputation one of the better non Ivy League establishments of learning, it may very well be that she is not alone..........it is alarming to me that she is so little interested in the things that she can not get at the Met that she misses out on the best of the rest. Most of which is much better, whatever that means, than what she is selling out to.
I have a huge respect and admiration for what the Met has done with their HD relays to movie houses. But the fact is that there are some unintended (I assume) consequences which are damaging to the long term health of opera in this country. I don't know what the answer is. I think that the Met has to be applauded and encouraged for the remarkable work they do. But there must be a way to arrange things so that the work that they do strengthens rather than weakens the provision of opera in cities around the country. And, by the way, ensures that singers develop who can perform to the highest standards that the Met demands. Otherwise we may be back to the bad old days when the Met tours stifled regional activity, as well as the potential careers of gifted American singers who had to go to Europe to make a living and a reputation.
I am sure that there is more to be said on this topic. I would love to hear alternative views of how the art form that we love so much can be served best in this brave but difficult new world. I think this is important for us us all......