Saturday, 9 October 2010

Arden Must Die - or the arts will...

Some excellent footage from the days when BBC television still retained a degree of respect for Lord Reith's principles:

Look out for Charles Mackerras as conductor.

Will someone now revive this fine Brechtian opera, Alexander Goehr's first? Now more than ever we need to show what the arts are capable of, as their political enemies take lipsmacking delight in slashing budgets. Opera companies and other arts organisations must be bold, must never retreat into rehashings of tired repertoire that could quite readily be mounted commercially.

Rolf Liebermann's words are especially instructive. As Hamburg Intendant, he felt it artistically necessary to commision an opera from Goehr; the composer's nationality was supremely irrelevant to him. Covent Garden, kindly take note! Liebermann commissioned no fewer than twenty-six operas during his Hamburg tenure; others include Henze's Der Prinz von Homburg and Penderecki's The Devils. Opera and art in general must never consign themselves to the museum. That way they will succeed only in signing their death warrants.