This art form, with its enormous casts, sets and orchestras, and its armies of stagehands and administrative staff, was a dubious financial proposition even before the most recent downturn. I was once told that the good opera company directors are those who lose money responsibly.
But there are problems deeper than financial ones with American opera, and they predated the recession by many decades. As you look across the country, you find pockets of innovation and experimentation, but the landscape is overwhelmingly drab.
When I am asked about the reasons for these deeper problems, I say there are two: “Moonstruck” and “Pretty Woman.”