OPERA ON AIR
When Tony Hall moved four years ago from running the Royal Opera House to being directorgeneral of the BBC, a friend of mine (no lover of classical music) grumbled, ‘Now I suppose we’ll have wall-to-wall opera on BBC Four.’ He could not have been more wrong. Apart from the annual feast of the Proms, classical music has practically disappeared from BBC television. This is a real loss, especially for opera. Radio 3 still does its best for music in the concert hall, but opera demands to be seen as well as heard.
A depressing sign of the times was BBC television’s recent treatment of Opera North’s widely acclaimed production of Wagner’s Ring. The entire cycle was broadcast on Radio 3 last year, but when it came to television, only Das Rheingold was actually broadcast. The other three parts were relegated from the start to iplayer. Even
Sky Arts did better than that when, last year, it broadcast the entire Ring cycle from Bayreuth.
I appreciate that opera lovers are a minority – probably a small minority of television viewers – and I would not argue that opera should be given equal time with rock and pop. But should it be neglected altogether? market with a great deal of choice, audiences choose when and how they want to view the things they love. Putting the Opera North
Ring cycle on the iplayer was a deliberate choice in order to make it more convenient to watch.
We have been doing more documentaries about opera in which we try to bring new insights about music to the viewer.
This autumn we have an opera season which I hope you will enjoy: we announced details of some of the programmes earlier this year and further announcements are coming.