Friday 27 October 2006

Pulling Together

Yesterday I was at a conference at the Royal Opera House, entitled Pulling Together. Organised by the Opera and Music Theatre Forum, it brought together people from various small to medium sized UK opera companies to discuss the fruitfulness (or otherwise) of partnerships in mounting opera, with an emphasis on new work.

There were some fascinating presentations:-

  • ROH2 and OperaGenesis, who sponsor workshops for helping create new work. OperaGenesis is the successor to the Genesis opera prize.
  • English Touring Opera, who have instituted a partner programme with 5 of their core venues. Both sides are reaping immense benefits from this and it is interesting in being a partnership between a funded and commercial organisations.
  • Yo! Opera Festival, a Dutch festival based in Utrecht who produce youth opera. They are a tiny organisation and have produced a dynamic series of festivals and workshops in partnership with numerous organisations.
  • Philharmonia and BT collaborate on the Philharmonia's web-site which has become an impressive entity in its own right. Not only do the provide concerts but the players record short films about their instruments etc.
  • Opera North and Picture This came together to produce an installation based on KinderTotenLieder.

The afternoon was spent in a panel discussing how partnerships can help generate new opera. Mel Cooper, Deputy Director of the Genesis Foundation, explained how they had moved away from the competition model towards using workshops as it was felt that the competitions were rather artificial and that their most successful opera so far was one which did not reach the final of the competition. The event had been organised by Bill Bankes-Jones of Tete a Tete and he gave an informative and entertaining summary of how this company came into being and how partnership was at the core of their way of presenting new opera.

It was a fascinating day and whilst directly, it may not have helped FifteenB to produce my new opera (as and when its ready), you never really know.

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