Saturday, March 25, 2023
Home Things to do Music For opera, ballet and orchestral music, it’s the same old thing

For opera, ballet and orchestral music, it’s the same old thing


‘Tis the season for season announcements for the country’s fine arts purveyors, the annual February-to-March moment when opera and ballet companies, symphony orchestras and performance venues tell us what they plan to present over the next year. This ritual of reveal used to be a major event for a city and it remains exciting, though for a smaller crowd of citizens who still consider this sort of art to be their own.

The Colorado Ballet will wrap up its season with its annual program of “Masterworks.” (Provided by Colorado Ballet)

In Denver, the news is good. The Colorado Ballet and Opera Colorado are out with their lineups first and they are strong on tradition — if not innovation — and tradition is the core of what they do.

The Colorado Symphony announces next week, and you can be sure it will match its classical peers by promising lots of material driven by the music of familiar names, such as Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Wagner.

The seasons are derived from a combination of artful ambitions, the personal tastes of each organization’s decision-makers and — most of all — a bottom-line business sense that demands programming things people will attend so they can stay solvent. In the end, we get the art we are willing to pay for.

As much as this fare can be predictable, it is still astounding in the way it almost never changes, even in a time of great cultural upheaval in the U.S. and beyond. With very few exceptions, the material is all white male composers, all the time, with what we know about next year so far. That is not meant as a criticism, but as an observation that many people continue to want to make and experience this same-old art, while at the same time have come to value a more multicultural world.

Clearly, the classical fare on tap here will almost certainly be delivered with distinction by these respected presenters who make programming decisions under great pressure.

For a solid century, European art was American art. That is to say, the music and dance traditions developed in Italy, France, Germany, England, Austria and Russia, and imported to the New Word by generations of immigrants who held them on high, were ensconced at the top levels of culture.

The Colorado Ballet will again be presenting the popular
The Colorado Ballet will again be presenting the popular “Nutcracker” in 2023. (Amanda Tipton Photography, provided by Colorado Ballet)

Opera, ballet and orchestral music — the holy trio of high art — were more than just entertainment. Their presence in this country made it feel sophisticated and enlightened, equal in prestige to those old countries across the Atlantic. Every big U.S. city had to have a solid offering of all three, or it was considered backwater.

No matter that the masses were getting their kicks listening to big band, jazz, rhythm and blues and rock ‘n roll, or consuming dance via performers like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or Michael Jackson, civic guardians felt compelled to support the less-attended fine arts and diverted large sums toward the infrastructure of opera houses and symphony halls.

Source link