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Editor’s Note Front of House

The importance of diversity

Welcome to the first ‘Spring’ issue of Opera Now as we move to a quarterly structure of the magazine. It marks an exciting step towards bringing both an in-depth and broader view of the opera world, whilst maintaining up-to-date news, reviews and features on our website and social media. This issue introduces a cover star who could not be better suited to marking the change. Tenor Russell Thomas is championing opera and speaks beautifully about his devotion to it, whilst being unapologetic about the many issues that still need addressing. He raises the ongoing shortcoming of diversity in opera. We certainly are seeing greater diversity on our stages, but Thomas reminds us that this isn’t always reflected behind the scenes or administrative roles.

Speaking last month on the Gramophone podcast with Belize-British composer Errollyn Wallen, she told me about the Royal Opera House’s initiative back in 2003 A Nitro at the Opera which celebrated contributions to opera by Black composers and artists. Nothing of that prominence, commissioning nine composers for write for the Lindbury Theatre, has happened since. It’s worrying that, over 20 years later, the celebration and promotion of Black voices in opera is still not seen frequently on a large scale.

The need for a more diverse audience in opera is not just a matter of social justice; it is crucial for the survival and flourishing of this art form. Opera has the potential to be a powerful force that transcends cultural boundaries and speaks to the shared human experience. By fostering inclusivity, both on stage, and among backstage hiring practices, we will get closer to dispelling the notion that opera is a relic of the past and position it as a living, breathing art form that speaks to the universal human experience – and society today.

Hattie Butterworth

@operanow fb.com/operanow Opera Now captures the drama, colour and vitality of one of the most powerful of all the performing arts. In our print and digital issues, we showcase the creative spirit of opera, both on stage and behind the scenes, with profiles of opera companies, singers, directors and designers. Our in-depth features reflect how diverse cultural elements have influenced opera, including travel, history, literature, art, architecture, politics and philosophy. Our lively reviews and opinion pages are a platform for writers and critics drawn from all over the world. Our aim is to inspire our opera-loving readers to broaden their knowledge and deepen their passion for this fascinating and stimulating artform.

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