“The art form of the future”: an interview with Neal Goren

Clearly the music industry—not just opera—has undergone a lot of change recently. You’ve talked about chamber opera as the “art form of the future”. Is chamber opera better placed for the coming future?

When you have a smaller ensemble, a smaller everything, you have the ability to be much more nimble. You are able to ride the waves of economic change. If the stock market goes up and the donors contribute more, you can have a slightly more grand production, you can hire a couple more violinists. And if the stock market and donations go down, you will be able to change things in the other direction without losing anything artistically. It’s like deciding whether to have a cherry on the sundae or not: in the end, it’s still a sundae.

You can’t do Aida without the soprano. Some might say you can’t do Aida without the elephants. I remember a friend of mine did Cavalleria rusticana and he got letters from donors complaining that there was no donkey in the show. They thought it was essential to the opera. I don’t: the donkey does not sing, does not play an instrument. It’s just there to have a bit of local color, and there are other ways to get that.

But there are no such expectations of chamber opera. The goal of chamber opera is for the audience to have an emotional experience, and there are various ways of doing that. It’s the same goal as grand opera, but chamber opera is much more nimble.

This is an excerpt from an interview with Neal Goren, published on the Asian Review of Books on January 18th, 2018. The full interview can be found here