Otello without blackface — what else should classical music change?

According to Michael Cooper’s ArtsBeat report in today’s New York Times:

The Metropolitan Opera said on Tuesday that the new production of Verdi’s “Otello” that will open its season next month will not use blackface makeup on the white tenor singing the title role, breaking with a performance tradition of more than a century.

This is progress, I guess. But is it enough?

Here’s where you come in. What else do you think the Met and other operatic and classical institutions could do to bring their offerings up to 2015, or at least into the 21st century? Think big, think small — anything. I’ll start with a few from the concert side of things; please reply with yours.

Start evening concerts earlier — maybe 7:00 on weeknights and 6:00 on weekends — and eliminate most if not all intermissions, which kill momentum and waste time. We can then dine at our leisure after the concert, rather than rush through dinner to get to our seat.

Have more works, whole concerts even, performed from memory. I know, easy for me to say. But the concerts I have enjoyed most lately featured the performers interacting with each other and with the audience, not with pieces of paper. Other musicians and performing artists can do it. So should classical.

Perform more varied programs, with shorter and newer works alongside perhaps one major repertoire classic. That would help make each concert a unique experience rather than a re-reading of the same old scripts.

OK, your turn.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s