Thursday, April 03, 2008


The Guardian has today published a good and justified riposte from my friend Stephen Plaice to yet another formulaic moan about creative musical hybridity (Hip-hop has a place in the world of opera).

'Tom Service disparages the attempts of opera houses to attract new audiences with "cool", youth-oriented events (Give me divas - not DJs, March 26). I am the co-creator of one of the works singled out for criticism by this hugely generalised polemic.

'Service says that every time opera houses "try to tempt a demographic of young, ethnically diverse, trend-setting opera-lovers through their doors, they end up creating more problems than they solve". From its lofty white perch, this statement deliberately overlooks the coherent work in the major opera houses over the past 20 years in developing young audiences, and ignores many successful productions.

'Service's intention is doubtless to provoke, but should we really accept this kind of lazy hyperbole: "Anyone who knows what opera houses are really capable of in full-scale productions of standard repertoire feels short-changed"? Anyone? Not this one actually. Nor the many who have enjoyed the productions Service so categorically condemns.

'Glyndebourne's main-stage youth operas Misper and Zoƫ, and its Mozart hip-hopera School 4 Lovers (complete with DJ) - for all of which I wrote the librettos - enjoyed critical and box-office success. A hip-hop audience at Glyndebourne? Yes, it did happen, Tom, and they were thrilled.' Continued here.

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