Dear David

All of us at Bachtrack had lots of fun reading your piece “Take your seats for a fight at the opera”. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good spat, and seeing as we’re not exactly a giant media conglomerate, we always appreciate getting a mention from the great and the good.

As for me, I’m all in favour of riff-raff, whether the term means “people who don’t agree with me on matters of high cultural significance”, “people who prefer hip-hop to opera” or “the great unwashed” (or your other favourite form of patrician abuse). The more of them we get into concert halls and opera houses, the better.

But there’s a pretty clear strand running through your piece that I have to take issue with: the fact that you can’t conceive of finding opera anything other than stultifyingly dull. The thing is, your “irrational fear of hours and hours of boredom” isn’t merely irrational – it’s just plain wrong.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of boring opera. There’s also plenty of boring jazz, rock, theatre, film, football games, TV and – dare I say it – comedy. And since our multi-channel world gives us access to the very best of all these things, we’ve become all the more intolerant of the bad stuff. But just because there are a lot of dire comedians, it doesn’t mean that *all* comedy is boring.

If your starting point for opera is a fat lady in a horned helmet or a glitzy party frock standing bolt upright and bawling out in a voice that would do serious damage to your crockery, I need to let you in on a secret: things in opera have moved on somewhat in the last 100 years. There are crime operas, rom-com operas, war operas, sci-fi operas, opera versions of classic movies, biographical operas, surrealist operas. There are operas about the atom bomb or the life of Gandhi, and there’s even a fabulous opera (written in English, by the way) about the bloke who spent 20 years living in Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle airport.

So here’s an invitation (or perhaps a challenge). If you can overcome that irrational fear, I would love you to be my guest at an opera that I will choose, after a suitable conversation with you, in which I will personally guarantee that you will not be bored, on pain of some forfeit that we should probably agree offline in advance.

Are you up for it?

Yours ever

David Karlin
Founder and director, Bachtrack