Report by John McIlduff, 8 June 2015

This conversation centred around the idea of creating original, new opera for the medium of film. Something quite different from streamed or filmed staged operas or even opera films such as Kenneth Branagh’s Magic Flute: an entirely new original work of art MADE expressly for film (although it was noted that this didn’t stop piece’s that had been written for the stage being adapted as films)

Contemporary dance has long understood the possibilities that film has given to create new works of all lengths for film. There are many festivals around the world dedicated to dance films and perhaps thousands of films being made every year.

Why are there so few opera films?

There seem to be many benefits for the opera community in exploring this potential new medium.

- New work can find a far larger audience.

- New collaborators and partners can be created.

- Films can be used as marketing tools as well as works of art themselves.

- Making films is now relatively cheap. Given the ever tightening budgets for creating new opera work which in turn gets a couple of performances whereas for the same budget a film could be made which has a much longer life span.

- Composers, librettists, singers and directors can explore new themes, techniques and idea.

Yes, it’s probably a niche market but hasn’t the Internet given us the possibility for niche markets to thrive because they can immediately reach a worldwide audience. But also perhaps there is a possibility to take advantage of the growing market of opera screened in cinemas to provide content for these screens to precede the main event. Could commercial sponsors be interested in creating branded work that would be screened in the cinema and further afield. Many brands are now funding longer form films as part of their marketing campaigns. Perhaps opera films could fill and niche here. Imagine if David Lynch could be persuaded to shoot a 10 minute opera composed by Nico Muhly and performed by Jonas Kaufmann. Surely a high profile work such as this could find an audience. (Have a quick look through Youtube and you will find that a short excerpt from a concert performance by Kaufmann can have as much as 500, 000 views and some of Muhly excerpts have over 150,000 views.

But it doesn’t only need to be high profile work. Opera practitioners at all levels of their career could explore this medium, make new work and reach new audience. Making opera films is something that we started doing at Dumbworld a number of years ago (there’s some links below to things we have made) and we are very interested in trying push this forward and to develop platforms where there work can find an audience (we have plans to create an Opera Film Festival in the coming years) and to create networks that can bring people who are interested in making opera films.

We’ve set up a Facebook page for anyone who is interested:

But also feel free to email us at [email protected]

Here’s links to some opera films:

To Do List

Peter, Lily and the Nose

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Film, film, Opera, opera