Paris autumn conference

from 17 to 20 October

The quotations below were noted verbatim at the Provocation and other sessions during Opera Europa's Autumn conference, 17-20 October 2018, Paris
For quotes from our Young professionals think tank >>

For notes on David Zahle's presentation on social infrastructure >>


The stage is a place where unseen things appear before us.  We understand that the greater part of life escapes our senses!
Peter Brook, theatre maker

Many children, teenagers and also adults are unable to distinguish between the digital and the real world.  One fatal consequence is a loss of empathy.  Without empathy, human beings cannot coexist peacefully.
Opera offers an opportunity to conquer an additional piece of the world for oneself.  The process of imagination gives the audience the possibility to have enriching experiences beyond their daily lives.
The question of our times is how people from different cultures and religions can live together well.  One of the key ingredients is empathy.

Birgit Meyer, Intendantin Oper Köln

The real power of theatre is to help young people to become free minded men and women.
An innovator has to walk in the future with a foot in the past.  We need to build a bridge to connect the world inside theatre with the world outside.

Corinne Baroni, Director Teatro Coccia di Novara

Around us the artistic, economic, political and educational landscape is changing.  We need to rethink the relationship with the people who live and work in those cities we serve.  Equally, digital as a tool to make, share and experience culture is radically altering the habits and expectations of our audiences…If the arts in education are isolated to only those who can afford a private education, how do we possibly claim to be relevant to all?
David Collins, Director of External Affairs Opera North

I want to share this privilege as much as possible, and not to keep to myself what I was given…The exuberance, the depth, the visionary depth of baroque music grabs you so strongly that you can’t resist!...It is actually very modern and easy to share with incredibly varied audiences.  It allows dreaming, developing all kinds of fantasies; it lets your imagination talk.
Emmanuelle Haïm, conductor and founder director of Le Concert d’Astrée

Opera works from local premises towards the global stage.  It is a naturally multicultural and multilingual system rooted in its own community….The ultimate immersive experience is still the Opera performed in the opera house by 200-odd individuals…but it is not the only option anymore.  We need to keep the whole ecosystem healthy.
Lauri Pokkinen, Social Responsibility Manager Finnish National Opera

Europe is a political project based on culture.  It needs to demonstrate added value.  There is an increasing focus on values and identity.
Opera is a mirror of society.  The digital revolution will extend cultural participation. OperaVision shows that it is relevant, modern and has a future.

Michel Magnier, Director for Culture and Creativity, European Commission

We need to become better at being honest with the customer.  Nine out of ten people who say they don’t like opera have never attended one.  We need to fit around audiences and consumers, and present a choice of how to tell stories.  Stay true to what we do, but communicate with audiences on equal terms.
Kasper Holten, CEO Royal Danish Theatre

Make relationships with people.  Make a show with participation of the audience.  Create partnerships with those who live in the suburbs.  Show them the people behind the show.  The objective is social integration.
Mathieu Jouvin, Deputy Director Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

We must believe in our art form, and strive for the best quality performances we can; but the change is that now people in the house really focus on what the audience want.  We focus on segmented marketing, social media, live streaming, insourced ticketing, and bridges with other cultural forms.  2022 will be a focal point of a new opera using immersive technology.

Gita Kadambi, CEO Finnish National Opera & Ballet

Objective research shows that opera is seriously out of fashion.  Yet stakeholders are paying 50% or more of its costs. The internet will change artistic communication. We shall change the work we put on stage. In Europe theatre is a public service, so expect the people to express their will. Expect Revolution Châtelet; Revolution Opera!
Ruth Mackenzie, Artistic Director Théâtre du Châtelet

Performance does not happen on stage; it is in the head of the beholder… Opera is not only a ritual. It is also community building. An experience to reach catharsis… Is it our responsibility to educate? Should culture and education not be in the hands of one Ministry? Our links should be with the education organisations in our community.
Peter de Caluwe, General Director La Monnaie/De Munt

Participation projects should be seen as art, not just as an audience development tool.
Rainer Simon, Assistant to Intendant Komische Oper Berlin

Are we crusaders, trying to convince to world to become opera lovers? Let’s not sell out what we stand for to attract audiences at any cost.
Astra Irmeja-Šēfere, Head of Artistic Planning & Production Latvian National Opera