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The aims of Maestro at the Opera

A note on the new BBC series, which begins tonight.

By Royal Opera House

4 May 2012 at 6.04pm | 7 Comments

Maestro at the Opera begins tonight on BBC Two at 9pm, the first of three programmes which chart the progress of four celebrities who are undergoing training as a conductor at the Royal Opera House. The participants have been introduced to everything that goes into making an opera performance behind the scenes as well as conducting, working with the Orchestra and also the singers who have to act at the same time.  They have also been working on phrasing, interpretation – making the music mean something.  

Needless to say, neither the BBC, nor the ROH, thinks that anybody can become a qualified operatic conductor in ten weeks. To be a real Maestro takes not only talent, but years and years of hard work, training and experience, and the conductors appearing at ROH are some of the best in the world, already with distinguished careers internationally.  

So the aim of the series – through the journey of the contestants – is to open up the wonderful world of an opera house to the contestants and to the viewers, and not to claim that anybody can learn conducting in a few weeks.   To make the programmes exciting, there is of course the element of competition. And the prize for the most successful contestant is the chance to conduct a repeat of Act 2, fully staged, during tomorrow evening’s performance, Saturday 5 May.   

We have written to all our audience members and invited those who might be unhappy with the repeat of Act 2 to contact us and we will do all we can to find a fitting solution for them.  The repeat of Act 2 will only last approx 20-25 minutes, and we hope our audience will see it as an opportunity to take part in a unique event and enjoy the festive spirit, or take an extended interval. Of course this will not be a normal performance of this act, nor should it be judged as such. But it will of course be interesting to follow how far the contestant has come.  

We very much hope our audience will look forward to seeing how this challenge plays out

By Royal Opera House

4 May 2012 at 6.04pm

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged BBC, BBC Two, Maestro, opera

This article has 7 comments

  1. Janie Barnes responded on 4 May 2012 at 6:24pm Reply

    I have just re-read the email from Caroline Bailey and nowhere does it ask audience members who are unhappy to contact the house, nor was there any indication when booking that the performance would be interrupted.

    • Ellen West (Head of Online Content) responded on 4 May 2012 at 9:51pm

      We did endeavour to make sure that everyone knew that the evening would be extended by 30 minutes; including a line in all of our marketing print and on our website. Apologies for any disappointment, and do contact the House if you are still unhappy.

  2. Jeremy Fielding responded on 5 May 2012 at 8:13am Reply

    When you decide to change a scheduled event after you have sold tickets for it, please have some consideration for your customers that plan their visits and give their money to you months in advance. I have a 2 hour train journey home and now it's unlikely I'll be able to get the last train from Charing Cross if I want to stay to the end of the performance, so have to look at alternative arrangements to get home. It's very frustrating only to be informed of this a couple of days ahead when one would assume you have been planning this for months but chosen not to inform us! Whilst I'm sure we all applaud popularising the art form, it shouldn't be at the expense of interrupting your artistic integrity and customer relations.

    • Ellen West (Head of Online Content) responded on 5 May 2012 at 4:21pm

      We are sorry to hear that you have been inconvenienced by tonight's extened performance. We endeavoured to communicated the extended programme with notes on our website and marketing materials, but apologise if this has not been sufficient.

  3. Matthew Temple responded on 5 May 2012 at 5:06pm Reply

    Ah, I see.
    People from outside London's chattering classes can't appreciate art unless it's dressed up as reality TV.

    And there was me thinking Kenneth MacMillan, for example, spent his early years in a rented two-up, two-down in Great Yarmouth.

    Clearly, I'm confusing him with another great artist by the same name who was born and raised in Islington to a merchant banker and his lovely wife.

    • Ellen West (Head of Online Content) responded on 5 May 2012 at 5:22pm

      There are lots of ways of discovering opera or ballet at the Royal Opera House: whether through one of our Welcome performances for families, our Chance to Dance programme, the Community Chorus in Thurrock, online events like Royal Ballet Live, our broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, free BP Summer Big Screen events around the country, Insights events for all levels of knowledge, live cinema relays, new work in the Linbury Studio or a performance on the main stage. The list goes on and on.

      A TV series like Maestro at the Opera or Antonio Pappano's series Opera Italia is another way of introducing opera to a new audience. It may not be for you, but we are hopeful that many viewers will find it enjoyable and informative.

  4. Andy Bent responded on 12 May 2012 at 3:22pm Reply

    Well I'm enjoying Maestro greatly. I'm probably not part of the target audience you first thought of when planning this series - I've loved opera since I was a spotty teenager and first attended a performance at the ROH nearly thirty years ago - but I am enjoying seeing the "professionals" talking about what they need to think about when performing. Most importantly of all, I think anything that shows that this is music and theatre for everyone, and that the vast majority of people involved in opera are not pompous, snobbish or intimidating is all to the good.

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