Artistic economics

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Ken Walton’s wilfully naïve 
assessment of Scottish Opera’s fortunes (21 September) deserves to be challenged.

Firstly, Ken bemoans the “status quo” of presenting three main scale operas per year. In fact, for many years we have consistently put on four main stage operas.

The only reason we are performing three this year is because the Theatre Royal will be closed for a short time while we complete a £12.45 million improvement project.

Secondly, Ken asks whether it is cynical to suggest that presenting our tour of Rodelinda with a violin, a cello and a harpsichord is a triumph of economics over artistic judgment. Ken forgets that Scottish Opera has been touring small-scale opera all over Scotland – usually only with piano accompaniment – for more than 40 years. Rodelinda represents our continued ambition, not our lack of it.

Finally, the Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world and gives us an unparalleled opportunity to bring new audiences to the fantastic world of opera, so of course we will be back there with more ambitious contemporary productions.

When the story of Scottish Opera’s health is a 17 per cent increase in audience, a £12.45m upgrade to our home, 181 performances in 51 venues, a successful run at the world’s biggest arts festival and a full range of outreach and education work, the language of “opera on a shoestring” begins to sound less like reality and more like an attempt to grab a cheap headline.

Alex Reedijk

General director

Scottish Opera