Paris, 26 March 2005—In April
2001, Culturekiosque published Lukas Pairon's provocative essay, "Opera Houses Under Fire: a
Manifesto for a Living Lyric Drama," (available in English and French) which posited
that major opera houses must incorporate newly-written works as a
substantial part of their programme if opera is to remain a vital art form
and the opera house to be more than the museum of lyric drama which
it has become. He called for a re-imagination of the art form, a
re-structuring of opera companies, and a re-thinking of the means by which
operas are created and staged, to incorporate more developments in the
contemporary performing arts.
While not agreeing with all of his points, we
feel strongly enough about the continuing need for creation that we would
like to give his point of view the widest possible dissemination. At the
time of its publication our readership in the United States and in Europe
strongly to Pairon's positions, and to this day we still
receive considered and substantive responses to a commentary which clearly
struck many a nerve among opera enthusiasts and professionals.
To our minds, the issues Pairon raises about the present state of
opera and its future are still very much alive today. Therefore, we
continue to solicit comments from our readership on this topic.
Most recently, we received the following thoughtful rejoinder from
one of our readers in Belgium. Other readers who wish to continue the
debate are invited to contact
us. We will select particularly
interesting responses to this piece to share with our readers
and with Lukas Pairon, who has been known to respond at
—Joseph Romero, Editor, Culturekiosque.com
Whatever opinion one may have about contemporary music, or
"avant-garde", as we can put it, I find it helpful to remember what Walter
Legge said about opera, or rather about art in general: democracy is the
last thing we need when it comes to art.
Indeed, much of what you have written would be pointless, were our
opera houses run by men and women whose only work is music, and hence
would know about music, since they and only they would be in charge. I
find the idea of involving 'large audiences' to debate about opening up
opera houses to such and such work a total waste of time. What do I know
about music? Get me the right people in the right places, and let them get
on with it.
Easier said than done, I quite agree. But one can always dream of going
back to dictators such as Legge, can't one?...
Jean Paul Guillaume