The paths of opera in the 21st century

If artistic activity was one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic, the cessation of community activities and the closure of borders that affected the world since March 2020, the impact on poetry was even more acute because this is a discipline that needs of the coexistence of multiple people on stage, orchestra pit and rehearsal rooms, in addition to being designed to be performed before a large audience. International circulation is essential for lyrical singers, orchestra and stage directors who mostly lack stable contracts in institutions and live from their performances in theater circuits, festivals and spaces dedicated to the genre.

Faced with the surprising cancellation of seasons and the impossibility of carrying out the activity with the usual rules, the specialized institutions had a quick reaction and developed a network that allowed them to share experiences and solutions to an unexpected crisis. Technology in its multiplicity of forms became an ally to overcome the spatial barriers imposed by confinement in its various intensities. Although some institutions had already been developing experiences for the transmission of performances by streaming or analogous formats, they became aware of the need to incorporate these forms of dissemination and to create works especially aimed at these new platforms.

Opera is a genre that has shown its ability to adapt to social changes and although many have wanted to issue their death certificate, it has shown to be in good health and to adapt the heritage of its repertoire to the aesthetic sensitivity of contemporary audiences and to continue creating a new repertoire that increases its symbolic richness. The pandemic exposed it to a new challenge to which is added the armed conflict located in Europe that has the world as its territory.

At the beginning of April, the Third Meeting of Ibero-American Theaters took place in Barcelona, ​​which brought together theatres, seasons, lyrical festivals and organizations linked to culture from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay, represented by the organization created in 2007 called Ópera Latinoamérica (OLA) and institutions from Spain represented by the organization Ópera XXI, which spent three days reflecting on the challenges that the current historical context poses to opera and to the institutions that cultivate and promote it.

During the cessation of activities, the work shared in this regional organization through the communication platforms that kept us abreast of the measures that were taken in each case to face the crisis was very important. It was necessary to plan actions that would maintain the relationship with the community, the possibility that the genre would come under new formats not only to its regular viewers but also to new audiences that until then had not approached theaters.

Perhaps the most outstanding reflection that was reached in the joint declaration with which the aforementioned meeting concluded was that of placing people at the center of theater management, devising artistic proposals that attract the public and generate value for them , since culture —which music and lyrics integrate— are “agents that can promote reflection and critical thinking, creativity and freedom, diversity and inclusion, solidarity and the cohesion of societies. To achieve this role, it is essential to connect and be relevant to the public and citizens in general. We know that if we want to connect art with people, we have to commit ourselves to humanity and uncompromisingly claim a democratic social context that guarantees the fundamental rights of all individuals and always ensures peace and life.”

The best example that a work with these objectives can achieve was those of us who participated in the meeting, whose venue was the magnificent Liceu theater in Barcelona, ​​and every night we attended the performance of the works that make up the triptych composed by Mozart and Dal Ponte (Weddings Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cossi fan tutte). In this framework we were able to verify that art is resignified in each era, that the communion of people before a stage is one of the noblest experiences that a person can experience and that, therefore, creates ties to collectively face violence and intolerance. that with renewed masks always lie in wait for us.

* Lawyer and cultural manager.

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