The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music poll: Is opera for the rich?

October 16, 2011
8 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The opera season will soon be upon Madison in full force.

In a way, it has already started.

Last month, the Madison-based Fresco Opera Theatre (below, in a photo by Max Wendt) gave three performances of its mix of circus and grand opera at the Overture Center’s Promenade Hall.

Then yesterday, Saturday, marked the opening of the sixth season of “The Met Live in HD” at the Point and Eastgate cinemas. The production was Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena” with soprano Anna Netrebko (below) in the title role. (The US encore is Nov. 2 at 5:30 p.m.)

Here is a link to the other 10 productions this season:

http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/liveinhd/LiveinHD.aspx

But the most reliable and well-known local opera productions are soon to come.

At the end of this month and the beginning of November (in Music Hall on Friday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 30, at 3 p.m.; and Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m.), the University Opera will present three performances of a new production of the opera that is probably the most popular and beloved opera ever written: Puccini’s “La Boheme” (below, with  Lindsay Sessing as Musetta (brown dress), Shannon Prickett as Mimi (lying down), and John Arnold as Schaunard).

Here is a link with more information:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/opera

Then in Overture Hall on Friday, Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m., the Madison Opera will present its first-ever production in 50 years of Tchaikovksy’s “Eugene Onegin” with sets and costumes from the beautiful Pittsburgh Opera production (below, in a photo by David Bachman).

Here is a link to the Madison Opera:

http://madisonopera.org/performances/eugene_onegin/

As a background piece to such promising productions, I bring up a question: Is opera for the rich?

That certainly is the perception, mistaken or not, of a lot of people, and NPR’s wonderful “Deceptive Cadence” blog recently posed that question and made some astute observations of its own and received some insightful comments from readers:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2011/10/12/141272600/is-opera-stuff-only-rich-people-like

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2011/10/13/141319827/opera-is-for-the-99-heres-what-you-told-us#more

So tell The Ear and other readers what you think about the question and examples that support or contradict the perception hat opera is primarily for the rich.

The Ear wants to hear.

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Posted in Classical music

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