(Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)
Ashutosh Khandekar - Editor
From the current issue of Opera Now
Opera Now is extremely proud to be supporting the Company Award at this year’s International Opera Awards.
The importance of a well-oiled ensemble is at the heart of the genius of opera. Soloists and conductors may shine on the night of a performance, but without the context of a brilliant orchestra and chorus, a backstage team that is always on the ball and an administration that balances risk with integrity, no individual artist would amount to very much. Opera is an art form that depends entirely on collaboration, the sharing of ideas and the willingness to work as a team, even when egos are rampant.
The Komische Oper Berlin, under its current regime led by the irrepressible Barrie Kosky, is a fine example of what can be achieved with when a real company spirit is fostered. In Germany, arts companies understand the importance of permanent contracts for all its artists, so that they can evolve a distinctive house style that defines their artistic ethos.
You only have to look at the images on the cover of this issue and in our Company of the Year feature to grasp what makes the Komische Oper unique: bold, daring stagings of opera featuring risk-taking performances, with a mission to refresh and reinvent traditions. This is an opera company where you will find irreverence tempered with wit, intelligence and, above all, a deep-seated affection for the art form.
Kosky has developed his company style on a simple but, in its own way, rather radical maxim: that you can be popular, entertaining and challenging all at once. It’s an approach that ought to be taken on board by many of our major opera companies and the stage directors they employ. It is dispiriting to go to the opera to receive a lecture about how to behave (that’s something we can leave to politicians). Nor, however, should we go simply to switch off our brains: opera is too good for that.
Our Company of the Year has achieved an almost impossible balance in the work that it presents at its home: to stimulate the heart, the mind and the soul of its audiences. It doesn’t always succeed, as some of the reviews of its recent work in this issue will testify. There is, nonetheless, a fearlessness and a bracing freshness in the Komische Opera’s approach to producing opera, and this is something Opera Now is delighted to be able to celebrate at this year’s International Opera Awards.
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