September 30, 2013

How to Kill an Opera Company in 5 Easy Steps



In film, murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is, and what a messy thing it is to kill a man. —Alfred Hitchcock


The successful devolution of a great American opera company, one that gives stage experience to hundreds of young singers in myriad performances a year, involves the following steps:

1. Hire a general director who knows nothing about running an opera company. This leads to step two. 
2. Get rid of anyone who knows more about opera than you do. Start with the dramaturge and work your way through the rest of the staff: this includes the orchestra and chorus. 
3. Leave home. Make sure you lose your subscriber base, your audience can't find you, and your donors smell blood in the water. 
4. Destroy the past. This is what every effective Egyptian pharaoh does. It's not enough to simply deface it. No, you must destroy it: this includes your sets, costumes, archives and music library. Once the historical record has been erased, you can re-write it.   
5. Spend down your endowment, then rely on the kindness of strangers. 

Easy enough, right?