As part of its year-long celebration of its 200th anniversary, Teatro Real, with the support of the Spanish government, offered to host an inaugural World Opera Forum between 12 and 15 April 2018.
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This World Opera Forum realised a dream of both Opera Europa and Opera America to combine forces to create an event which is truly global. Last September, Marc Scorca and Nicholas Payne with Ignacio Garcia Belenguer Laita of Teatro Real to present the idea at the 10th anniversary conference of Ópera Latinoamérica in Bogotá, where it was warmly received. Together, they coordinated the invitations to representatives from North and South America and from Europe, supplemented by some from Asia, Africa and Australasia.
The Madrid forum differed from normal conferences in content, format and personnel.
The two central days of the forum focused of four topics with four leading questions concerning the future direction of opera.
■ Cultural Heritage (in European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018)
Will the weight of its heritage kill opera?
■ New Work
Can new work regain its place at the heart of opera, as in theatre or cinema?
How may opera have a meaning for a diverse audience and reflect 21st century society?
How will we build our capacity to advocate opera in our democracy?
There were no presentations or panel discussions. Instead, each topic was led by a series of short ‘provocations’ limited to 272 words each, the length of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in 1863. They were followed by a ‘fishbowl’ debate animated by a circle of 12 delegates and an expert moderator. Then, after a short break, delegates divided into four break-out groups for more intimate discussions around the subject. At the end of the morning or afternoon, delegates re-assembled to hear conclusions presented by rapporteurs.