The opera is a bit like the Grand Canyon: You might never go to see it, but you should be glad that it is there. Opera Boston’s sudden closure in December 2011 left a void in the cultural life of the city, and the fact that a new company — Odyssey Opera — is going to fill its place is very exciting.
Opera Boston failed in part due to mounting debt, and Odyssey Opera plans to avoid that pitfall by being a much leaner and more cost-effective operation. To be led by Gil Rose, who conducted Opera Boston during its final years, the new organization will perform the same sorts of modern and underperformed pieces that the now-defunct company specialized in.
Adding a new landmark to Boston’s already rich arts landscape can only mean good things for a city renowned for its classical music. In its short time on the scene, Opera Boston managed to achieve some extraordinary accomplishments, such as commissioning and premiering a Pulitzer Prize-winning opera by Zhou Long the year it closed. Odyssey Opera should be a vehicle for similar artistic innovation.
The opera company will have to compete for tickets with Boston Lyric Opera, which produces better-known works, and the opera-loving community in Boston is relatively small. However, a company with a strong mission statement and solid financial management has a real chance to enhance the artistic life of the city. Many Bostonians might never go to the Grand Canyon, but give them an exciting line-up of compelling new works, and they might just go to see the opera.