Debate: Is there too much sex and violence in modern opera productions?
Does adult content in in many productions of dramatic works such as Elektra or Wozzeck heighten the theatrical experience, or diminish the art form?
Over the past few decades, opera has reinvented itself, emphasizing the theatrical side of the art form where previously the music was perhaps the main focus. Increasingly, many directors have reinterpreted classic works in highly dramatic, sometimes explicit terms, leading some audience members to complain of shock tactics such as an emphasis on themes of sex and violence.
Such themes have in fact long featured in opera narratives as well as productions. Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (1643), one of the earliest operatic masterpieces, tells the story of the tyrannical and passionate Roman emperor Nero and his corrupt mistress Poppea who seduces her way to power with deadly consequences for those who cross her.
But have directors overstepped the mark in portraying such narratives with an explicit focus on their sexual or violent content? Ahead of Royal Opera productions of Wozzeck and Les Vêpres siciliennes, and following recent stagings of Written on Skin, The Wasp Factory and Elektra, let us know what you think using the comment field below:
Do you think that modern opera productions rely too much on sex and violence, or are such themes an inherent part of the art form, key to the theatrical experience?
A selection of your comments from Twitter:
— Minjas Zugik (@Curtain_Calls) October 10, 2013
@TheRoyalOpera "Modern" productions risk self-referentiality; "traditional" ones risk the boredom of habit. It's complexity vs simplicity.
— Marta Maria Casetti (@mmcasetti) October 10, 2013
@TheRoyalOpera Let's have modern (ie 'challenging') *and* traditional (as with Shakespeare). This is just 'sexed up' resistance to change.
— Adrian (@Adrian_Specs) October 10, 2013
— Michael Volpe (@MikeOHP) October 10, 2013
— Luciana Francis (@heymrsfrancis) October 10, 2013
@TelegraphOpera opera company managements are getting so arrogant that they risk alienating even their most loyal supporters
— Rupert Christiansen (@Rupechri) October 10, 2013
— John Keevill (@otoid) October 10, 2013
— Amanda Kendal (@AmandaKendal) October 10, 2013