Opera - elitism or entertainment for the masses?

Say the word ‘opera’, and equality may not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind. Academy researcher Liisamaija Hautsalo’s research project, Politics of Equality in Finnish Opera challenges our understanding of the perceived elitism of this particular art form. “By international comparison, we create an astounding amount of opera in Finland”, says Hautsalo. Small community productions that deal with local topics are often very popular.

The equal nature of opera can also be seen in books on the subject and in experiments with different forms. The topics of Finnish operas range from plumbing renovations to municipal politics, they can be implemented as puppet theatre or animation, or even feature disco music. “The notion of the welfare state that was established in the 1960s is still a strong influence. Its central message is that all culture belongs to everybody”.

The text has originally been published as part of Uniarts Helsinki’s annual report. Read more stories here or browse the pdf version of the annual report.