It’s no secret that going to the opera has always been considered a pastime of high society. When one thinks of the opera, images of old-time theatres come to mind, filled with overweight tenors and angelic choirs who sing sweet sorrow in French or Italian to people dressed in tuxedos or wearing fur while watching the performance through binoculars on a stick. It’s all very ‘bourgeoisie’
However, in truth, opera is an art form, one of unique dynamics and skill, and as such deserves to be preserved. With this in mind The ENO (English National Opera) have launched a new initiative dubbed Undress for the Opera. As reported by The Chicago Tribune, Undress for the Opera aims to make opera more accessible to a wider audience by enlisting artists from modern music and by making the entire experience more affordable.
One successful attempt at gaining new audiences was Dr. Dee, an operatic production that was a major drawcard during the ENO’s 2011/12 season, thanks to boasting one of Brit pop’s most fascinating and talented personalities Damon Albarn. Known to the general public for his involvement with Blur and Gorillaz, Albarn’s presence reportedly attracted 60 percent of new ticket buyers.
As the multifaceted frontman explained, although not yet comfortable with the tag ‘opera’ being attached to his work, he does feel that adjustments such as delivering the material in English could help revive opera.
“I struggle with the word ‘opera’ because it’s quite clear that I’m sort of swimming in deep water when I ever mention that word, so I try and avoid it,” Albarn told The Chicago Tribune.
“I’m quite clearly not someone who had any form of opera education and I’ve done it entirely instinctively and the fact that the English National Opera is prepared to encourage that is just a great sign of its health,” Albarn said.
“At some point I hope that I can deliver something to you (the ENO) that really ticks every single box but doesn’t compromise where I come from as well, and if you can do that then you will, truly, get a new audience in here,” he said.