Generation O is working to make opera financially accessible to young professionals, and to bring them together through the arts. Along the way, its success has helped refute all the old myths that have kept young people away from opera: it’s for an older crowd; it’s too expensive; it’s boring; and you have to get dressed up.
“The only thing old-fashioned about the opera is people’s assumptions,” says Domingo. “Where else can you get intricate scenery, fantastic lighting, exciting choreography, and the world’s most beautiful music, all in one live performance?” Where else, he adds, can you be “surrounded by your peers in a classic, sophisticated setting?”
Make no mistake; “sophisticated” doesn’t mean you have to wear a dinner jacket, and “classic” isn’t code for “expensive.”
Not only does Generation O provide performance tickets – it’s also the driving force behind social events connecting young Washingtonians. More than 100 people attended a recent happy hour to celebrate WNO’s production of Strauss’ Elektra, and just this past fall, Domingo joined us for a reception following a sold-out Generation O performance of La Traviata – which was seen by more than 2,300 members.
Generation O events blend the cultural, the social, and everything in between. And as Domingo noted in our chat, “The audience now is … very good looking.” Take it from him: if you haven’t met that special someone in the supermarket or the gym, try the opera. And, if you’re already attached, Generation O tickets mean you can enjoy an incredible evening of opera for under $100 – ideal for dating in a recession. At the last performance I attended, my casually dressed friends and I paid $50 for notoriously expensive orchestra seats.
Domingo and Generation O also want to foster lasting relationships within the city’s cultural landscape. “Washington has so many talented young people, and we want them to be involved with the opera all their lives,” Domingo said. “Today’s young patrons are tomorrow’s board members.”
Behind all of our efforts is opera itself. The Washington National Opera is home to some of the genre’s greatest performers and one of the world’s finest opera houses. With 10,000 young professionals attending in the last five years, this is definitely not your grandfather’s opera.
On May 1, Plácido Domingo will sing a Latin-themed concert at Constitution Hall. In June, he will conduct Turandot, a perfect opera for newcomers. Visit www.dc-opera.org for more information about upcoming performances and Generation O special events.