Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Graphs from the Met Opera Database

What type of operas would you say the metropolitan opera performs?

I romanticized an eclectic assortment of operas ranging between contemporary and classic genres. If you are anything like me, you guessed wrong. This blog provides graphs from the Met Opera Data base that show the Met has consistently built their repertoire on Wagner, Puccini, Mozart (shudder), Verdi and other well-known, dead composers. They barely perform American operas or works composed by females.  tumblr_inline_ne2xdlQiYp1rlewmy

I realize blogs are not the most reputable sources of information, but if these graphs were accurately taken from the Database, the Met seems to have been has been somewhat archaic with their programming through the last 100+ years. In addition, the Met’s  mission statement includes:

“To reinvigorate the art form, the Met is also commissioning new works and has made a commitment to producing contemporary work on an annual basis. ”

With the culmination of this data and the excerpt from the mission statement, do you think this data should be taken with a grain of salt? Or do you think the Met’s programming is a little too consistent for their mission statement.

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5 comments on “Graphs from the Met Opera Database

  1. cayleycarroll
    October 28, 2014

    Ok after brewing over this post all day I think I now have a better reflection on the blog post than I did earlier. I think these trends are indicative of issues beyond the Met. I think they point to the state of the opera world in general. As the popularity of the art form decreases, programming become much “safer” than it could be.

  2. laurenelizabethdickel
    October 29, 2014

    Interesting post Cayley. I am a huge fan of modern opera, but it is true trying to present new and perhaps tonally unexpected opera to audiences that are already dying out and not ‘understanding’ might not be a good idea. It is sad, that many new pieces are not performed because of the need to stay ‘safe’…. We need a better education system for introducing newer operas to opera lovers and people we hope to convert to be opera lovers. Opera and especially newer opera can be very compelling, if presented in the right context and with effective discussion before or after.

    Side snarky comment: Mozart is genius.. so stop shuddering woman. 😉

  3. zeniasimpson
    October 29, 2014

    I went to the Met Opera for my birthday last year and I remember reading that they were doing one contemporary opera about cyberbullying and the role of the internet in contemporary young lives called Two Boys (http://www.metopera.org/metopera/news/features/twoboys). This is supposed to be a part of a larger commissioning of contemporary operas for the Met but I don’t know of any others. I think in general, opera houses choose to play to the known works and especially the Met where I feel people (tourists) go to see traditional operas. However, innovative operas and operas about contemporary culture will certainly help establish opera as something relevant to a younger demographic who, quite frankly, has probably written it off before they even gave it a chance. For me, opera is nostalgic and I enjoy the traditional operas; however, this points to a larger issue of art organization having a mission and actually incorporating that mission into their programming.

  4. jaredchamoff
    October 31, 2014

    I’m sorry they perform so much Mozart… that must be a bummer for you to hear, Cayley. 😛

    I think that a lot of the rep choices have to do with the Met Opera hall itself. It was kind of BUILT to put on those huge romantic and classical operas. I don’t know if you have ever been to the Met, but that place is opulent as hell! So many crystal chandeliers and gold and velvet! And the hall is HUGE!!!!!!! The venue itself is very much in a romantic, 19th century aesthetic. So it kind of makes sense that rep they typically perform is of that era.

    I remember during one of my youth orchestra rehearsals the conductor (who played viola in the met orchestra) was describing how beautiful the Met was, and how the names of composers of the past, your Mozarts, your Puccinis, your Verdis, were engraved on the ceiling (or maybe walls?). I think that this is a pretty significant fact when you think about the rep they seem to consistently put on. I guess at the Met they are not as interested in the new stuff as the old, canonical stuff.

  5. torisharbaugh
    October 31, 2014

    I did not know that part of the Met’s mission statement was to “make a commitment to producing contemporary works on an annual basis”. That’s interesting to know!

    However, like what has been said before, audiences (unfortunately) do not enjoy the modern operas as much as the classics. I can appreciate modern opera, but honestly, I would not choose to listen to it for fun. For example, operas like Salome and Nixon in China are AMAZING pieces of art, but I do not love them because they nice to listen to. I appreciate those operas because I can understand the relationship of the music to the drama and compare them to operatic musical history. With a lack of operatic knowledge (or even classical music in general) in today’s society, people cannot deeply analyze opera as much as we would like.

    There are reasons that audiences love the “classic” operas. We cannot disregard the fact that composers like Mozart (Sorry, I’m a HUGE fan of Mozart operas. The way he communicates drama just in the music itself is brilliant) and Puccini wrote incredible works! Mozart has such memorable characters and Puccini incorporates beautiful melodic lines. With those operas, the songs gets stuck in your head and they are easier for a diverse audience to digest.

    So maybe the question is not which operas the Met is producing, but how modern opera composers are considering audience reception and societal trends in music? Food for thought.

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