Missing the real thing

All across our country the performing arts have been on a kind of deep-freeze. Large organizations like the Metropolitan Opera have bled enormous amounts in lost ticket revenues with no end in sight, while musicians, chorus members, principal singers, stage hands, and artistic-administrative personnel live on, barely scraping by financially, some relocating outside of New York, others moving in with parents, while waiting for it all to be over.

In Cincinnati, a microcosm of the larger national arts debacle, live theatres remain closed, while the larger and financially resilient, such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra play a limited number of performances with reduced orchestral forces, in shorter, intermission-less concerts, to socially-distanced audiences.

Summer-arts organizations hold off announcing their plans hoping things will soon change. Same goes for the smaller arts organizations, some of which may never come back. Cincinnati’s two major museums – the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Taft Art Museum linger on with reduced hours and no major exhibits.

The College-Conservatory of Music – in its heyday the largest presenter of live arts events in the State of Ohio – is exclusively presenting digital performances with carefully-distanced student musicians and dancers, while its ensemble-centric programs – musical theatre and opera – remain on hold for the time being. After a one-year hiatus the 173 year old Cincinnati May Festival bounces back in a modest version of its old self when it opens on May 2 with three programs of mostly smaller pieces involving reduced forces.

Audience members manage to get by watching on-line performances – many archival ones dating back years – of operas and concerts available on You Tube, the Metropolitan Opera’s digital presentations, and European on-line sources like Opera Vision. But every music and theatre and visual arts fan of my acquaintance aches for the return of the unique and irreplaceable in-person experiences of sitting in a concert hall or a darkened theatre or standing in front of a work of art in a museum as great art unfolds before our eyes and ears.

In a private exchange a musician friend wrote:  “I had to take a year off and start a business venture, in case our orchestra world imploded! I could certainly share what our experience has been during the pandemic and how that will impact us moving forward.”

Oh, how we understand!

Rafael de Acha ALL ABOUT THE ARTS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.