Schmopera is two!Op-ed
As Schmopera enters its third year of talking about all things opera, it seems a good time for me to take a momentary breather from our usual pace, and to extend my thanks to all of our readers.
Schmopera grew out of my own personal connection to opera and its fascinating people, and a not-so-small part of me wondered when I’d run out of hot topics, or when these great artists would tire of my constant requests to sit them in front of some recording device and ask them questions.
Instead, it seems as though the odd thoughts knocking around my brain about this wacky world of opera weren’t unique. Readers, you too were curious about how artists learn their craft, how they earn a living wage by doing it, and what those opera directors are up to. You too wanted to stop defending our beloved art form, and start making more of it without apologies. You too thought that what these singers can do is extraordinary, and you too leap at the chance to find out how they do it.
The people who sing, direct, conduct, play opera, they’re what turned me on to the whole genre in the first place; we’ve had the chance to introduce some of these spectacular personalities though Schmopera, and you too have figured out that they have big ideas and important things to say.
That big, monosyllabic question hung loudly over my head just before Schmopera was created: “why?” It’s not just an opera question, it’s a human one; I had this weird passion, but why was it difficult to talk about without a dictionary on hand for words like “co-pro” and “répétiteur”? Why did it need such qualifications? And why are we working so hard to create opera when the cards seem stacked “against us”?
In producing content for this blog, and receiving exciting submissions from our guest authors, those questions weren’t necessarily answered, but I began to realize that they’re not the right questions. Better questions surfaced instead: where is the balance between putting on a show and making people feel something? Why did this production earn hype, while that one didn’t? What do live music and theatre have to offer that can’t be found elsewhere? What would an audience miss more: a stunning set, or a stunning voice?
Our readership is one of the most exciting and encouraging things I’ve discovered about opera. Readers, you’re younger than the average opera-going demographic, and you laugh along with us at our nerdy T-shirts and imaginary operatic spin-off suggestions. Most importantly, you have high expectations for what you see onstage; that’s different from being elitist, and it’s an important distinction that’s beginning to be made. When money is limited and new audiences are a relatively hard sell, the thing in common with the great shows we see and create are the artists themselves, and how they interact with their very real audience.
You guys are a part of that discussion, and that means that opera really isn’t funneling down from a handful of General Directors. Opera is happening from the top down as well as the ground up, and the only criteria that matters is how we feel when the proverbial curtain drops.
So thank you, readers! Thanks for reading and watching our stuff, thanks for even the most disgruntled of comments, and thanks for helping us reach an ever-widening audience.
Here’s to year number three!
Jenna Editor, co-creator, Schmopera.