Editor’s Note Front of House
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Opera is going live
How confident are you about going to the opera these days? The past couple of months have seen a burst of activity in opera houses, with live operas finally becoming the norm again in many theatres around the world. We are, however, far from back to normal. Rehearsals and performances are still taking place with masks and social distancing rules in place. The singers I’ve been speaking to have been describing the challenges of performing at their best while still having to follow a raft of regulations backstage in opera houses. You only have to look at some of the images that we’ve printed in this issue, of masked performers rehearsing at English National Opera (page 10) and at the Met (page 30), to understand the di culties they still face in a job where communication is paramount.
Nevertheless, we should be thankful that live opera is back with us. It may be that vaccine passports and continual mask-wearing become part of the reality of opera-going, and for many in the audience, this will be a step too far. General milling around and social interaction is an essential part of the ‘opera experience’ and if audiences are to be enticed back into theatres, they will need to know that this aspect of attending performances hasn’t been suppressed. I have to say that my own recent experience of going to the opera in London has been pleasantly relaxed, with a sensible approach to keeping audiences safe, mainly relying on a sense of personal responsibility, while avoiding an overly anxious approach to health and safety. These early days of emerging from the depths of the pandemic will provide a blueprint of how the future might look.
One heartening area of improvement in the awful scenario of Covid is the return of travel to the opera. The opening up of the US and much freer travel in Europe means that one of the great joys of operagoing – the chance to experience live performances in some of the world’s most beautiful buildings and be immersed in the culture of great cities and different countries – is once again a possibility. Opera Now’s previews of international performances, guides to opera travel and our regular listings will help you to make the most of your operagoing in the months ahead. For now, the world of opera is firmly back in business.
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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