Opinion: Opera Australia’s "On Message" with the Ring. Or Are They?

Tickets are sold out.
But then they’re released.
They cost thousands.
But opera is being bought “to the masses”

I’m tired of the same old marketing spin for the about-to-happen Ring Cycle in Melbourne with Opera Australia. First they say it’s sold out, then they say tickets have been released (just the less expensive ones). Then we get some sort of tired old aristocratic-aid-mission-guff about “bringing opera to the masses” (the Herald Sun for example).

Clearly “the masses” whoever they are, don’t like opera and if they did, it wouldn’t be necessary to refer to them in such a pejorative fashion nor to “bring opera” to them as if it were some sort of novel discovery we colonialists have made in terra australis and could probably “learn you” something by expanding your meagre “culcha” with. 

Besides, what’s the point of bringing opera to the masses when all your seats are sold out (or are they….)?

After being to the opera many times myself, with many people of all ages and backgrounds, I think the only thing about it I can be certain is elitist is the marketing itself.

Oh, and the ticket prices for the ring – compounded by the accommodation costs (which because a full cycle is strung out over more than a week), anyone from interstate has to “boost the Victorian tourism economy” by retaining at least one hotel room for the duration.

So in between all this “boosting of the economy” and releasing tickets to a show that we have been told for months has “been sold out for months”, I wonder where the time will come to “bring opera to the masses” – through the auspicious channel of cabaret and other “festivally” bits and pieces?

If there is one thing the masses are historically overwhelmingly in favour of – it’s getting the crumbs of the cake and none of the icing.

Pity Marie Antoinette didn’t live to see Melbourne’s Ring Cycle Festival Extravaorgazama.

Oh well, back to South Pacific for all us Sydneysiders. Or is it King and I? I don’t know, one of those well known operatic masterpieces that are obviously core repertoire for any international opera company. I wonder what the masses will make of those “operas”…

Aaron Kernaghan