There has been a whole lot written recently about the state of opera in our fair city. Many major publications have picked up on the story, and it almost seems as though grand opera gets more attention when it’s something that we had, rather than something that we have. It seems that some are more interested in the drama behind the stage than on it, and I suppose that is OK if we subscribe to the theory that any press is good press.
Here’s my concern: For those (press and general public) who have been bemoaning the loss of the Baltimore Opera…when are we going to get over it? When can we move forward? It was two years ago. Believe me, I personally lost a whole lot more than the average audience goer, as did many of my colleagues. I lost a job, an income, a sense of community…not just a place to go see the opera. But, we got to work…immediately. We began producing our reduced format opera as a way to keep audiences interested. We never miss a chance to promote the efforts going on to bring grand opera back to Baltimore’s Lyric Opera House. What are you doing?
Will you be there to support the Lyric as the curtain opens next November? Yes, NEXT November, that’s how much planning goes into these ventures…they don’t happen overnight. Will you commit to attend performances? Will you grasp the idea that ticket sales cover less than half of the cost of putting on an opera, and search for ways to keep the new company in a healthy financial state? Or, will you wait until it is gone again, so that you can complain about the loss of another company?
We at the BCO are doing our best to grow the audience for an art-form that we love. We’re grateful for the press we’ve received, and for the generous donations that have kept us afloat for two years. We’ve consistently reached younger, newer, different audiences than we are accustomed to seeing at the opera, and that keeps us going…gives us hope…for the future of opera in Baltimore and beyond. If opera dies on our watch, it won’t be due to lack of CPR.
My hope is that when the curtain goes up at the Lyric next November, the same press that was there to cover the demise of the BOC, the same press that has highlighted the “scrappy” little companies that have cropped up in its absence, will be there to welcome in a new day of grand opera in Baltimore…perhaps they’ll even notice the changing face of the audience, due to the hard work of the “scrappy” little companies!
I know that I’ll do everything that I can to help promote and support a grand opera company at the Lyric. It will be hard not to think of the wonderful memories of the good ol’ days, as well as the hurt that followed with the loss of the BOC, but my eyes will be looking forward…not back.
Many thanks to Dale Keiger with Johns Hopkins Magazine for his article on the state of opera in Baltimore (especially those ventures with Peabody connections). His article is perhaps the most accurate, well written, and optimistic account of the Baltimore Opera scene. Other recent articles by Tim Smith with the Baltimore Sun, and a feature in Baltimore STYLE magazine, have helped to draw attention to the opera scene in Baltimore.
If you want to know more, subscribe to BaltimoreOpera.com which was purchased at the BOC bankruptcy auction and now functions as site devoted to all opera in Charm City. Bring your friends, get involved, don’t wait for someone else to do it…then there’s no reason that this great city can’t support all of these worthwhile ventures.