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Article Published: 01 Jun 2019

From the Hosts of the World Opera Forum

Teatro Real

It is a great honour and privilege for all of us at Madrid’s historic opera house, the Teatro Real, to welcome you to the first-ever World Opera Forum (12–15 April). This momentous occasion is the manifestation of our desire to engage opera enthusiasts from around the world in a global conversation about the future of opera and to chart the course of this time-honoured art form through the ever-shifting, media-laden and increasingly globalised landscape of tomorrow.

The Teatro Real is delighted to host this groundbreaking forum, which coincides with the 200th anniversary of our institution. Since 1818, when the first stone was laid, the Teatro Real has served as a venue for the world’s most talented singers, conductors and stage managers. Today, it appeals to audiences of all ages and interests with programmes that combine classical and contemporary lyrical repertory, while actively championing opera as a living, multidisciplinary, accessible art form with the capacity to stir powerful emotions and bridge demographic divides.

This gathering is an opportunity for prominent professionals in the field to share their experiences, insights and concerns, as well as to address the four main themes of the conference — Cultural Heritage, New Work, Diversity and Advocacy — by attending the discussion panels scheduled throughout the event. In addition, the opening session of the. World Opera Forum, on 12 April, will dovetail with the Teatro Real’s debut performance of Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana, a new production created in collaboration with the English National Opera and the Vlaamse Opera.

It is my pleasure to head this distinguished cultural institution and to welcome you to its storied halls for what I expect will be a lively, productive and memorable event.

This forum would not have been possible without the backing of the government of Spain, the regional government of Madrid, Madrid City Hall and our many generous sponsors.

Finally, we would like to offer our sincerest thanks to the three international associations of theatres and lyrical festivals, specifically Marc Scorca at OPERA America, Nicholas Payne at Opera Europa and Alejandra Martí at Opera Latinoamérica, for their unwavering support and cooperation in bringing this event to fruition.

Ignacio García Belenguer
CEO, Teatro Real

Opera Europa

Our generous hosts at Teatro Real want you to celebrate a glorious anniversary. My wish is that you find convincing answers to our provocative questions about the future direction of opera.

The four chosen topics are not the only challenges confronting opera today, but addressing them is crucial to opera’s survival.

Europe’s rich cultural heritage is a heavy burden. The rest of the world can help us distinguish between what to cherish and what to discard. How may we reconcile legacy and life?

Performances live in the present. How do we give creativity its place at the heart of opera?

A successful theatre relates to its community. How may we ensure that opera reflects today’s multicultural society?

We have a responsibility to advocate opera to the world. How may we articulate through modern means that essential sense of purpose?

Let us together forge strategies to invigorate opera for future audiences.

Nicholas Payne
Director, Opera Europa

OPERA America

It is an honor and pleasure to greet opera colleagues from around the world at the first World Opera Forum. This meeting is the realization of a long-held hope that discussion about the future of opera could be a global conversation that reflects the global nature of our art form. We are deeply indebted to our hosts at the Teatro Real for making it possible.

In the years before the existence of Opera Europa and Ópera Latinoamérica, OPERA America served almost 30 International Associate members across Europe, South America, Australia and Asia — companies that were interested in knowing more about marketing and fundraising as it was practiced in the United States and Canada. While we shared a passionate commitment to excellence, our business practices and artistic sensibilities diverged in many ways.

Since then, we have been thrilled by the development of our new partner organizations that have been successful in expanding the community of opera company members to more than 300 worldwide. We also have taken note of the increasing convergence of discussion topics as we navigate through a complex mix of challenges and opportunities. The most important shared issues are reflected in the agenda for this exciting convening.

We inhabit a dynamic world where inherited cultural traditions are being challenged, demographics are changing, government priorities are shifting, and technology is reshaping our relationships with one another, our audiences and the public. Within this ever-changing landscape, opera retains its unique power as a story-based, multimedia art from that can strengthen communities through public partnerships and performances that inspire audiences across economic, social and racial divides.

We are all deeply indebted to Ignacio García-Belenguer Laita, Nicholas Payne and their colleagues at the Teatro Real and Opera Europa for all their effort to make this meeting a success –– and the first of many.

Marc A. Scorca
President/CEO, OPERA America

These letters appeared in the report, World Opera Forum 2018: A Summary, published by OPERA America and Opera Europa.