Why is it that few teenagers are interested in opera? As a
16 year old who has been lucky enough to grow up in an opera-loving household,
I often regret that so many of my friends reject this all-embracing art form
without ever having been to see an opera, purely forming views from the age-old
So I thought that I would address three common stereotypes
surrounding opera, to perhaps convince my peers to give it a go!
1. Opera is boring
I really don’t agree with this! Opera covers such a range of
different styles, and works range from being over 400 years old (still great
music and stories- think L’Orfeo
written in 1607!) to this very moment. There is truly something for everybody-
from frivolous operettas or tragic love stories, to even myths, haunting ghost
stories or satires.
I also think something to remember is that you may well find
that some bits boring but that’s ok, and not a reason to give up on your first
visit. Try and discover which styles or composers are your favourites, or which
kind of thing you’re not so keen on, but keep an open mind because there’s so
much out there.
Something I think is really important is that sometimes you
don’t need to be completely ‘engaged’ the whole time. Your mind can wander and
it’s ok to ‘switch off’ for a bit.
2. Opera is expensive
Like almost any art-form, it is true that opera can be
expensive. But it can also be great value! There are often discounts for young
people, and you don’t by any means need to have the most expensive seat in the
house to have a wonderful experience. Although I believe that live opera has
something special that cannot yet be captured on a recording, you can find
something to suit pretty well all moods and tastes on YouTube (or a CD if
you’re old-school!), and if there doesn’t seem to be much opera going on near
you, take a look at the ETO Autumn tour- you might strike lucky and find a
top-class performance on your doorstep!
3. Opera’s old and outdated
It is true that the majority of ‘classics’ in opera
repertoire were written before most of us were born- many created several
hundred years ago. But that doesn’t mean they don’t still relate or engage us
in many of the same ways they did to audiences at the time.
You don’t need to stick to the ‘classics’ either- new operas
are incredibly exciting too- last year I went to a (world premier) of Haas’s
Morgen und Abend, and without exaggeration it was one of the most
extraordinary evenings of my life. There’s nothing more exciting than going to a
new production, an ‘unknown’ opera that hasn’t been performed for many years or
maybe even a whole new opera, so if you get the chance definitely take it! It’s
often a gamble, but it’s pretty cool knowing that you are one of the first
people to see it.
I really do hope that if you’re my age (or any age- opera’s
for everyone) you give opera a go- arrange a night out with a friend, turn some
on while you revise, or you could even speak to your school about organising
something. It’s such a great way of exploring human emotions, forgetting about
the stresses of school and everyday life, and of course the music is divine!
Work Experience Student