Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Opera Anywhere?

As Karen, the fearless leader behind The BLO Bunch explained to me, the idea for BLO’s Opera Annex programming is “to produce an opera not in our traditional theatre or more broadly, a found space.”

Here are just a few reasons why I think that’s a great idea:
 - Most people view opera as a fancy, extravagant production. Not that The Emperor of Atlantis, or Death Quits won’t be extravagant…or fancy…it just places the production in a different space not typically suited for an opera – thus, breaking the stereotype that opera is for “old stuffy people” and appeals to a much broader audience. 
- It makes everyone – audience, creative team, cast, crew – think outside the box. Different spaces mean different ways of staging a show, different sets, props, costumes; even different approaches to performing.
- As I stated before, it appeals to a much broader audience. Not only that, but I think using a nontraditional space will let everyone relax a little bit more and perhaps even enjoy the show in a different way than one typically enjoys an opera. You might pay attention to details you normally would overlook, and as a result you might gain a new appreciation for a particular technique, etc.
- At the very least, using a found space for an opera can make the focus on the heart of the opera itself – the music. Without an elaborate set and the other distractions that may come with a large opera house, the audience is left to focus on what they came there for – the singers and the lyrics and the music itself.

Sure, there are negative aspects of using a found space for an opera. Just as there is always the chance of negative reactions when performing experimental theatre. If anything, I think going outside of the norm and performing in different ways ultimately benefits all parties involved – the audience, the performers and the creative minds behind the production – even if that particular production is a complete flop because you can’t knock something until you try it.

- Katie McNamara, Saint Anselm College

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