Opera Now's INTERNATIONAL GUIDE to the best live opera this autumn

PLUS: Opera on TV and in cinemas

COMPETITION 15 Be trea ted to dinner for four at

Green's R estaurant and Oyster Bar in London 71 Win a trip to this yea r's

Wexford Festival in Ireland


Fadil Berisha

Welcome T

he fortunes of the arts are intimately linked with the ups and downs of the economy, so a period of recession is usuall y ve ry bad news for opera, which is a complex, resource-heavy and therefo re expensive art form. E ven in Austria , where culture usuall y enj oys a pri vileged positio n in the funding stakes, the government has told th e countr y's performing arts fl agship, th e Vi enna State Opera, to make savings of 10 n1.illi on from its running costs next year. The vexed respo nse in a recent television interview of th e opera's music director, Franz Welser- Most, is tellin g: 'The Salzburg Fes ti val, th e Vi enna Philharm oni c, th e Vienna State Opera, these are instituti o ns in w hi ch we lead the world . What else do we know how to do? Becoming th e b est is hard; bu t staying o n top is a g reat deal more diffi cult , requirin g an unbeli eva ble level of innovation and investment .'

Many Europ ean countri es have the sam e dil emma: as manufacturin g and fin ancial m.arkets have moved to newly established powerbases in Asia, th e Middle East and the Far E ast, culture has assumed a hugely important role in w hat Europeans have to offer to the rest of th e world . The opening ceremo ny at the Olympics in London, fo r instance, was n1.o re a celebratio n of British culture and crea tivity than o f sport or economic might. It was a spectac ul ar piece of live th eatre that opera-go ers would have found strangely familia r.

In Britain, the opera world is already bracing itself fo r another round of Arts oun cil cuts. Opera is, after all , an easy targe t with its reputation fo r lavish luxury. However, th e fac t th at its crea tive t eams o f sin gers, directo rs and design ers are celebrated and admired all over the world is usually overlooked , as is the number of British opera productio ns el\.--ported eve ry year.

Opera is proving surprisin gly res ilient in troubled times. The forthcomjng new season is a testament to the imagination and crea ti ve energy generated by opera comparues in the UK, th e US and Europe. This crea tivity, m eanw hil e, is increasin gly being tapped by emerging economj es in the E ast where the appetite for 'global' culture, of w hich opera is a major strand , is growing. Our 'Season Preview' and our 'Postca rd from C hina' in this issu e, togeth er tell th e sto ry .. .

Ashutosh Khandekar

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