MET Opera and the Problem with New Old Ideas

Oh Opera. Who cares about an antiquated art form that is only kept alive because the mortician consistently adds new rouge and redresses old operas for “new” audiences? Opera, isn’t that an art form created and financial supported by white men? Aren’t operas sung in Italian or in German? Lovers of opera don’t want new operas. But, they do enjoy well known Italian operas with a deconstructed set design and minimalistic direction!

If you love opera, then you would (probably) feel compelled to argue against these suppositions. No, you might exclaim. There are new operas being written all the time. The new productions of old operas are striking in their strobe lights and deconstructed sets. There are women and minorities taking the opera stage and even writing operas. Yes, I promise!


The MET Opera announced new productions for this seasons, which include Verdi’s Otello, Berg’s Lulu, Puccini’s Manon Lascaut, and Strauss’ Elektra. The most recently composed opera of the MET’s season was The Death of Klinghoffer, which was written in 1991. From the blogger and composer Suby Raman, “Klinghoffer, as it turns out, is barely “contemporary.” It was composed in 1991; imagine if “Everything I Do I Do It For You” was considered a current pop song.”

Over at Raman’s blog, he has complied a number of graphs that break down the MET Opera’s productions by sex and nationality of composer, language of opera, performances of operas written in the last 25 and 50 years, and so on.

Take a look at one of Raman’s graphs below.

Ruby Saman's Graph

This graph is depicting something you probably already new, if you are an opera fan. Can you really argue against the idea that opera is an antiquated art form when there is no support or venue that promotes and performs new operas, especially when the most important music venue in America doesn’t support new operas?

To read Suby Raman’s entire article, please click here.


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