18 December 2009 at 3.11pm | Comment on this article
A colleague who runs a museum and gallery in Florence said to me recently that not everyone’s going to love a particular painting or sculpture but, even if they don’t, they will often love finding out about the techniques that the artist used to make it. And, he argued, that’s an equally valid way of engaging with the art.
I agree entirely. Much of our extensive Insight Programme exists to provide opportunities to learn about the processes of creating and staging productions at the Royal Opera House.
These things are invisible on the stage, yet we know that people – whether they’re new to our artforms or regular audience members – are fascinated to find out about them. We recently ran a series of four events in Thurrock focusing on wigs and make-up, hats and jewellery, and how you rehearse singers. Many in the audience were new to ballet and opera but each evening went on longer than scheduled because of all their questions, and the feedback we’ve received has been really positive.
So I’m especially excited about an opening last week: not our production of Der Rosenkavalier (wonderful though that was) but our launch on iTunes U. This is a dedicated area of the iTunes store that features free downloadable education content (“U” sounds considerably cooler than “University”!). We’re the first performing arts organisation in Europe to have a presence there and we’ve already uploaded over 100 pieces of multimedia content, including some fantastic films of The Royal Ballet “In Rehearsal”; they were made specifically for students of dance but I reckon a much wider audience will find them interesting.
This new initiative, along with other web-based resources, is of course enabling us to share our work much more widely. The reach of the web is global and it’s exciting to think that people anywhere in the world can now find out about the work in ROH’s rehearsal rooms and backstage, as well as our ballet and opera repertoire.
A while ago I received an email out of the blue congratulating us on some online resources we’d created on Swan Lake. The emailer was telling all his friends to have a look, he said. It was nice to know that we were creating a stir in Sacramento!