Anne Midgette, following on her review of the new Steve Jobs opera by Mason Bates, compares recent trends in new, big-budget operas to the era of “prestige television”.
… it led to the libretto of an opera called “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs,” which had its world premiere at the Santa Fe Opera on July 22, in which Jobs’s wife, Laurene, sings, “You were never easy./ But once you found your way,/Discovered you were ‘human,’/ We found a way/To connect.”
One of these things is not like the other. In a book or a movie, the lines Laurene sings would be scorned as Hallmark-worthy, romance-novel sentiment: A woman turns the bad boy good. In opera, it seems, we’re willing to tolerate it.
This strikes me as the direct result of opera companies’ focus on past repertoire. The saccharine plot turns in Mozart and the melodrama of Puccini just seem stupid when people are singing about iPhones.
… Opera — which is considered one of the highest forms of art — tends to uphold its formulas, sticking to tropes a century or two old. And opera audiences are willing to hold opera to a different standard — which effectively means that the bar is set a lot lower.
Sometimes, your opera is Two Broke Girls. Sometimes, it’s The Wire.