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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Opera audience 'growing fast'
Midsummer Nights Dream at Glyndebourne
Glyndebourne is one of opera's big seven companies
The audience for opera is growing faster than for any other arts medium except film, says a new report by the Opera and Music Theatre Forum.

But the potential for growth is limited by a lack of new operas to perform, a shortage of productions and the poverty of dozens of small opera companies says the Forum, which represents most small and medium-sized companies.

Promoters want rarer and more experimental operas but they need financial support

Opera and Music Theatre Forum
Research by Acorn TGI and compiled for the report Opera For Now shows that the audience for opera had increased by a quarter between 1986 and 2000.

The problem facing grassroots opera is one of administration and finding the works to perform - rather than finding audiences, according to Caroline Anderson, manager of the Forum.

"Audiences are growing - not just for standard repertoire but for new and experimental works," Ms Anderson told BBC News Online.


"Promoters want more of it - but supply has been affected by years of under-funding."

Opera's 'big six'
Royal Opera House
English National Opera
Scottish Opera
Welsh Opera
Opera North
The seven large opera houses - the "big six" opera companies and one un-named private company - had yearly incomes of more than 1m each, the report found.

But most small and medium-sized companies were relying on volunteers and administrators taking on several jobs at once.

"Money is needed not for superficial layers of management - but for basic things like getting bookings and writing contracts, which are often done by artistic directors or volunteers," said Ms Anderson.


She added: "This is why some many small companies burn out so quickly.

"Promoters want rarer and more experimental operas but they need financial support, as nobody can afford to take risks."

The report, has been seen by the Arts Council of England (ACE), which paid for the research.

The ACE has subsequently created its first post to supervise opera and music theatre.

See also:

01 Aug 01 | Arts
Seven year Verdi marathon ends
10 Jul 01 | Music
Domingo is homeward bound
07 Aug 01 | Reviews
Star Wars turns space opera
13 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Bright young team at Glyndebourne
02 May 01 | Arts
King of the high Cs
27 Apr 01 | Arts
Bid for black opera-goers
22 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Birmingham's opera for the masses
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