Opera is an international art, enriched with local sensitivity, so an art that needs to speak with its own voice, in which creative potential is required.
Opera is a network of cultural connections. People from different parts of the world can find a common language if they know and understand the same works of art. Shakespeare, Mozart, Goethe, Szymanowski, Chagall create a network of cultural connectivity – an international language of emotions. To connect with the world is to feel emotions. A community is created when we feel the same emotions.
Opera is a declaration of belonging to the world of culture. For over 400 years it has been part of European cultural identity, a focal point for cultured people of sophisticated sensitivity, while at the same time popular entertainment.
Opera opens up people’s minds, because it shows that every story can be told in many different ways, that every work can be performed in a variety of ways, that grass painted by an artist is not necessarily green, that a poem is not beautiful because of its theme, and that a human being is a human being regardless of nationality, skin colour or religion.
Art cannot be treated literally. The audience goes to a show to watch a good performance of a good opera rather than going to a literal performance. One can read a libretto at home.
Opera cannot be reduced to simplified descriptions, cannot be explained in a childish way, because opera, as any other art, reflects the contemporary era, which is not simple at all. The present world is complex, multidimensional, sometimes relativised. It is a world of emotions, but the picture is not black-and-white. It is not only about an artistic vision, but about a higher goal, which can be defined speaking about imponderables. Opera protects us against trivialisation and homogenisation of the world.
Opera is extremely important in times when people have lost their ability to focus, to listen carefully, and to follow the story. The world of high art gives way to pop culture, and as a result we all lose the ability to understand a deep message. Cynical opportunism of the world of events has long ago distorted the balance between event-oriented thinking and the activities acceptable to a cultured, sensitive audience which runs away from flashy tat. The primitive understanding of community and an attempt to please absolutely everybody is a dangerous trap – we are becoming no one, empty shells without qualities. That is why financing mass culture from public money endangers creativity, innovation and our intellectual identity which gives way to critical thinking.
It is wrong to think about artistic events as a gift to the audience. Today we need investment in people. Participation, connecting with the audience and organic work with local communities are of key importance. The mission of a cultural institution is not only their physical presence in the heart of the city, but actually to be the heart of the city by connecting with the audience and creating community ties.
The work performed might seem repulsive, outrageous, ugly or vulgar, but sometimes it must be like that. We must overcome fear of otherness, novelty, change, strong emotions. We must overcome conservative approaches, because what we get as a result is poor. We must overcome the longing for unification, for simple solutions, because they bring with them totalitarianism.
Opera invites participation as the very essence of citizenship – an everyday practice of togetherness. Culture and art are the present, modern ties uniting Europe, the instruments with which to build a modern society. Opera educates us emotionally, showing that every history may be told in more than one way. Thus it weakens nationalism and racism, cools down religious fundamentalism, and educates future residents of the world through their involvement in community life. The bonds with the world mean experiencing emotions -- art expresses the emotional truth about reality. Thus its mission is to promote creativity, influence, dialogue, participation and diversity.
Opera is soothing – we need more calm. We need to break away from imposed meanings and symbols. We need to be enchanted with abstraction, eventually meeting it face to face.