Saturday, 9 May 2015

Why Opera Europa's Platform matters

Opera Europa, in conjunction with, has launched an Opera Platform, streaming live opera from all over Europe. The Berlin Phiharmoniker's Digital Concert Hall has brought Berlin to the world. Is this where the future of classical music lies? Media and funding agency obsessions with crude measures like bums on seats and regional outreach are rendered pretty meaningless.

Opera Europa represents 155 opera houses and festivals in Europe, promoting co-operation and development, mainly between houses,. ., supported by French and German broadcasters, has been streaming opera and music for years, which is one of the reasons why some performances are blocked outside Europe.  operates like a normal online TV channel, with news, sports, pop, movies etc is already the world's biggest collection of classical music: I have no idea why Opera Europa didn't go through which already showcases festivals like Lucerne and Aix., and is an indispensable resource.  

HERE is the link to this year's Opera Platform  streams, which will also be broadcast in 15 cinemas.  Quick link here.  For the launch yesterday, La Traviata (with the divine Ermonela Jaho)  from Madrid, but the real coup (on 16th May) might be the Royal Opera House's Szymanowski Król Roger which I've reviewed HERE.  This is a sensationally good production of an opera which holds a crucial place in music history - the equivalent of Debussy Pelléas et Mélisande, Béla Bartók Duke Bluebeard's Castle , Schoenberg Ewartung and Berg Lulu  While the Nazis, Communists and Catholic Church in Poland didn't like Król Roger, there's absolutely no reason for English-speaking audiences (particularly London music critics) not to be aware of it. Thirty years ago, when Poland was still Communist, Simon Rattle recorded all of Szymanowski's orchestral work, including the opera. There have been numerous productions since. Two books in English on Szymanowski and many more in Polish. Opera Platform will stream in French, German and English  If it does nothing else at least it will break English-language insularity. 

On 24th May, Sibelius Kullervo from Helsinki.This is important, because it's choreographed by Tero Saarinen.  Kullervo isn't an opera so much as a tone poem with voices, so it's rarely dramatized.  In Finland, music, opera and ballet play a much bigger role in ordinary life than in most other places, like the UK.  Sibelius is of course a kind of god. Saarinen's dance company is brilliant: the production enhances the music beautifully. Highly recommended: Please read my review HERE.   Kullervo is being performed at the BBC Proms this year, and also at the Edinburgh International Festival, but I think we can be pretty safe saying that this innovative, creative Kullervo will be the best of the lot. Saraste conducts, also a plus.

To come : Valentina by Arrturs Maskats from Opera Riga, Götterdämmerung from the Vienna State Opera (Simon Rattle),  Die Entführung aus dem Serail from Aix-en-Provence, features on Pesaro and Aldeburgh, on Den Norske Opera and on Teatro Regio Torino.

Although the Opera Platform isn't big enough to compete with, it's a good, new platform (literally) for promoting European opera, particularly from smaller houses which might not have the resources to do so on their own.  By offering quality and variety of choice, the market is developed in a much more organic way.   The BBC has attempted to emulate and, but its fundamental approach is too limited, too simplistic and too non-musical to be of much use. In a digital era, people can choose and think for themselves. The BBC just doesn't get it.

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