Opera is a dying art. Or, if the art isn’t dying, our audience members are. Each year the average age of the audience members increases by one year…. meaning that eventually the audience will have all passed away. This is a frightening idea for those of us aspiring singers who just want someone to perform for in 20, 30 or even 50 years.
To combat this problem, Opera Companies are attempting to instill a love, or at least an understanding, of opera in children through outreach programs and opera camps such as the one I ran this summer. Luckily, it seems to be working. The 21 children that I worked with adore singing, dancing, acting and performing for people. These 7-15 year-olds know more about opera than I knew at the age of 18 or even 20. They are being cultivated as future opera lovers, and, therefore, future ticket-buyers. These students gave me hope for the future of the art form in their enthusiasm and willingness to learn.
However, will there be any opera companies left by the time they grow up enough to support the arts? As usual with any financial problem, it took too much time to come up with a solution. By the time outreach programs and “youth mixers” entered into the operatic vocabulary, generations had passed. Can the companies and programs survive the 20-30 years it might take for these culturally-astute and music-loving students to become financially viable? All we can do is try… and pinch our pennies until then.