The internationally renowned mezzosoprano Joyce DiDonato, who has been blogging for years, lets loose on her home state, Kansas, for cutting all of its arts funding.
Not that things are all utopian in Europe, but in comparison, it’s shameful how good we artists have it here in comparison. (Shameful that it isn’t better in America!) Theater-going is still part of the cultural fabric, despite the times. The theater is here and open for business all year (the Innsbruck dance and baroque festivals take over when we go on summer vacation.) There are performances geared toward schools and young audiences every year. When they get a little older, they come to the musicals, and then for other dance performances and plays. We may not make opera fans out of all of them but they come into the theater.
Things are, I concede, not getting any easier in these tough times. The luxury days of doing whatever you wanted, and expecting the audience to swallow it, are long gone. Many theaters are going to have to get a lot more conservative with their stage directions in the near future (considering how far out there they are now, I have no problem with that. Our theater here toes this line pretty well, but there are others that just leave you shaking your head.) Having had the advantage of being in nearly every production this season, it was easy to see how they compared in audience reception. We’ve done some wonderful operas this season which were successfully received and well-attended, but the shows that sell out over longer periods of time, the shows that prompt massive standing ovations and repeat visits and fandom, are the big musicals. Right now, it seems that the financial successes of the big, sold-out musicals are what is keeping the operas on the schedule, especially the lesser-known offerings and commissioned works. Whether we’ve struck a balance that can carry us through the next decades in this manner, I don’t know. But we’re still here.