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Diverse Voices Roundtable

Wired4Music member Winnie Sandy recently attended a roundtable to discuss opera, diversity and education which was organised by The National Opera Studio working in partnership with the Royal Opera House. Here she reflects on the day.

The ‘Diverse Voices’ roundtable discussion regarding the participation and inclusion of BAME young people in opera was a positive but well overdue topic. It was great to hear the voices of key decision makers and see an effort to really reflect on the much needed progress in opera and classical music in the UK. Issues regarding the structural foundations and history of opera emerged and led to questions such as ‘what is opera?’, a fundamental question that still needs to be unpacked and also leads to, ‘what should opera be?’

As the day progressed the topics of funding programmes and new initiatives as potential solutions fed into a series of group exercises, although I found all this too familiar to conversations previously attempted by the industry as a whole and which have resulted in a proven lack of success.

The topic that stood out in particular as a possible agent of change was the potential dissemination of the power in opera resulting in a far more progressive and overall greater successful industry such as what is happening in America – ensuring the sustainability of new and more diverse generation of composers and conductors and new and more diverse programming in opera houses.

Nevertheless, this conversation is only one of the many phases scheduled in this initiative over the coming months. Some say that opera is a dying tradition – I’d hate to think so and hope to see solutions like this aid the industry’s longevity, diversity and overall contribution to the arts.



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