‘An Exclusive and Expensive Article?’ Opera and Money – CONFERENCE

Date / time: 12 September, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

'An Exclusive and Expensive Article?' Opera and Money - CONFERENCE



Conference – Tuesday 12 September 2023, Oxford Brookes University

Opera has a reputation as the most extravagant of art forms. Even modestly staged productions require vast sums of money to pay for sets, costumes and the huge numbers of personnel involved in bringing opera to the stage. Over opera’s long history, many different models to finance opera have been tried: almost all have led to controversy and many have failed. Attitudes towards state subsidy have varied historically according to country and political regime: often the topic is bound up with deep-rooted ideas about national values and identity. Today these arguments rage more loudly than ever, exemplified particularly painfully in the recent funding cuts inflicted upon most of the UK’s leading opera companies by Arts Council England, an organisation that, at the time of its foundation, saw opera as central to the reinvigorated postwar British arts scene.

This conference, organised by the OBERTO opera research unit at Oxford Brookes University, aims to examine the close relationship between opera and money from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Together with reflections on patronage, philanthropy, ticket pricing, marketing, fundraising and the perennial problem of state subsidy, we hope that the conference will cover broader issues to do with opera and money. These might include the widespread perception of audiences as wealthy (and historical/current case studies that confirm or disprove the stereotype), access schemes, whether opera can ever be staged on a budget, and the depiction of wealth and poverty on the operatic stage.

We invite proposals for individual 20-minute presentations, panel discussions and alternative-format sessions such as lecture-recitals or poster presentations on any aspect of the connection between opera and money. We welcome contributions from academics as well as from opera industry or media professionals. Past OBERTO conferences have facilitated lively debates between academics, performers, directors, critics, opera administrators and members of the general public, and we would like to continue this tradition.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • State funding for opera and the politics of subsidy
  • Patronage and philanthropy
  • Staging opera on a budget
  • Sponsorship, fundraising and marketing
  • Corporate entertainment in the opera house
  • Access schemes
  • The cost of operatic venues
  • Perceptions of opera as expensive and luxurious
  • Audiences rich and poor
  • Money and the opera-elitism debate
  • Singers and (perceptions of) wealth
  • Wealth / poverty as represented on the operatic stage

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words and any enquiries to oberto@brookes.ac.uk by 1 June 2023. We will endeavour to notify contributors later that month and publicise the full programme in July.

For more information, please visit: https://obertobrookes.com/forthcoming-events/