I always wonder why it is that audiences boo. Opera audiences can get extremely cross about interpretations of their favourite operas, especially the classics. I'm more concerned with the need, the irresistible urge even, to be outraged by a director's interpretation and to give voice to that frustration.
A reality that all opera houses face is that audiences tend to gravitate towards the works they know. In fact, this isn't a problem only experienced by opera houses but there is a peculiar perception afoot that by presenting these works we are, by definition, asking audiences to consider them all to be masterpieces and as such they are frequently judged on that basis.
The arts industry is, especially today, awash with the cult of personality. Too often the focus is drawn to the people at the top, or the PR stunts that propel them onto a few thousand twitter feeds and by which an industry appears to now be judged, diverting the issues or introducing unnecessary ones.
A happy fact of life at Opera Holland Park is that our largest source of income still comes from the seats we sell to our audience. For an arts organisation that has to be a healthy state of affairs; the art itself is the focus and driver of everything. But we, like others, have to find people and organisations with the resources to make the books balance.
I have made much of the need to introduce people to the world of opera and part our effort to achieve this takes the form of the Opera Challenge, now in its third year. In essence...you come on a free ticket and then pay what you believe it is worth in the form if a donation to our Inspire project. Simple. We tend to run this scheme for our rarities. See below...