What’s the best way for opera to gain new audiences? The most obvious answer is to encourage new audiences to see an opera and hope that they will enjoy the story, music and singing all at once. Then we have to ask ourselves another question: what are the best operas to show someone who is completely new to the art form? I can see the serious dramas such as La Traviata, Madame Butterfly and Carmen, or even the silly comedies like The Barber of Seville and The Pirates of Penzance being on the top of the list. The narratives are easy enough to follow, depending on the direction and staging, and the music is regularly recycled on commercial adverts (often on radio and TV) which, probably, anyone can recognise.
The Victoria and Albert Museum has taken on the responsibility of introducing opera to newer audiences using an entirely different technique. A brand new exhibition with the collaboration of Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House (and Societe Genrale) has opened at the Sainsbury Gallery. It is the first time the Sainsbury Gallery has exhibited work and artifacts to this scale – the largest in Europe of its kind.