Look at all the new operas!

Look at all the new operas!

Jenna Simeonov

I came across this comprehensive list of operas written after World War II, compiled by French writer and critic Thierry Vagne. There are hundreds of operas listed by John Adams, Krzysztof Penderecki, Steve Reich, Harrison Birtwistle, Benjamin Britten, and way, way more that I’d bet you’ve never heard of.

A teacher of mine, who is a big champion of new music, once reminded me that producing new opera in great quantity eventually begets quality. At the time of Mozart or Verdi, there were also hundreds of so-so composers writing, perhaps, forgettable operas. I wonder what a similar list of operas written post-French Revolution, or post-American Civil War would look like. Mozart, Rossini, and Wagner would have their work on those lists, along with hundreds of other operas that never got a second play (by these same composers, probably).

Out of interest, I suggest perusing Vagne’s list. Some great titles in there, like Penderecki’s Die schwarze Maske, and Kris Defoort’s The Woman Who Walked Into Doors. It’s a good thing to remind ourselves that living in the middle of artistic history is much different than looking back on the winners.

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