The Business of Generosity
We - creators and performers and enablers of opera - are in the business of generosity. We share our hearts and souls and innermost feelings with strangers. We communicate on a level that transcends daily lives and so-called class and cultural backgrounds. We are the sum of extraordinary, far-reaching generosity - and the creative forces of the past four centuries are just the beginning.
Although we have a music and dramatic and visual script bound together by carefully crafted artistic vision and brilliance of creative teams spanning centuries, when our singers are bathed in that beautifully designed light, with their colleagues, musicians, costume makers, set designers, committees, donors, sponsors, partners and friends in the dark all around them, it falls upon singers to deliver for all - which takes more work, heart, dedication and technique than many people can imagine, let alone would accept as a way of life.
And yet, we don't hold back. We pour every fibre of our being into preparation and delivery of a moment - to do both what is expected, and more than expected: to do what we have trained and practised and rehearsed to do.
We make history every time we perform, because the audience is different, the people are different - the emotions, the vibrations and the manifestation of collective imaginations are different. What is the same every time is the power to be moved, thrilled, amazed, provoked and changed. And sometimes, just being confused is enough. Bending one's brain to a new or unfamiliar task in an effort to grasp or understand or even simply form an opinion, is a lifeline to human connectedness, potential and possibilities.
Opera is a particularly human endeavour at an unashamedly elite level that unfailingly connects an audience full of strangers to the performers, but also, via live vibration, generations of tradition and multiple interpretations, and fibres of sound and text, with elements of dramatic and visual spectacle, invites a group of random strangers in - to share an experience more profound, more lasting than an award-winning meal or glass of wine - or even a celebrated film in a dark cinema.
Many people in Australia are genuinely unaware of the impact of being present in the execution of live opera-music-theatre - having only seen or heard transmitted product. Many have not experienced the many strands of conscious and unconscious endeavour manifesting in myriad waves that roll in and out and over and between strangers in a live performance space. There can be no doubt that connecting in this way can be life-affirming - or at worst, confronting - and that to be part of it, either in the execution, or the enabling, has value beyond the individual.
Ultimately, the transaction of opera, backed by tradition, discipline, expertise and experience, is not based around economics or being sensible or by wishing - or by data or metrics - it is indiscriminately intimate, alive, emotional, and has lasted because humans have been unselfish.
Opera needs generosity of all sorts, and it is always heartwarming to receive offers of help. The only thing this artistic activity doesn't always breed is enough cash. There are a LOT of people to be paid. We can lavish our creativity in ways that are surprising and enthralling - and be clever and frugal when we need to be - but we need many generous souls who have the capacity to fund elements that require the cold, hard stuff to jump on board with us.
What we are doing - creating Australia's first Opera Festival - is amazing and enormous.
And unlike some of the founders of festivals elsewhere in the world, I am not 'independently wealthy', nor have I had the time to take away from opera and the YVOF to pursue money-making paths. If you have the capacity to donate, I ask for your help in giving this, Australia's Only Opera Festival - the best foothold possible - especially during our first 5 years.
Will you help? We promise to spoil you with gratitude in the best way we know how - in song.
PS - If you need another good reason, your donation is tax-deductible (DGR, TCC)
“The opera always loses money. That's as it should be. Opera has no business making money.”
Sir Rudolph Bing, co-founder and first director of the Edinburgh International Festival and manager of The Metropolitan Opera for 22 years.