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Opera being presented in translation. A change of the last 40 years.

August 27, 2010

Kenneth Branagh’s Magic Flute

By Barry Lord

In 1970 Reginald Goodall conducted Wagner’s Valkyrie in English at the English National Opera in London. Opera lover Peter Moores was inspired to offer what amounted to $1 million to EMI to finance a complete English-language recording of Wagner’s Ring Cycle conducted by Goodall.

In 1964 Moores had set up a Foundation, first subsidizing Joan Sutherland so she could turn down unwanted roles and concentrate on her development. He went on to become the patron of the entire Opera in English series of recordings issued by Chandos records. He also patronizes Opera Rara, which produces little-known operas in their original language.

Moores’ wealth originally came from his father John Moores, who founded the Littlewoods sports gambling company, subsequently also mail order and retail firm. He worked in and eventually took over his father’s company.

Moores combines the retail approach of Littlewoods with his passion for opera. Noting that Opera Rara is for the cognoscenti, whereas Opera in English is “for the nonspecialist,” he says, “We have to figure out what people will want to buy. If people don’t buy, we’re not doing a good job of getting them to know opera.”

A more recent patronage by his foundation was $23 million for Kenneth Branagh’s English-language film production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute — a “militantly pacifist, ardently ecological” production, says the International Herald Tribune, my source for this story.

Moores is also the patron of Compton Verney, the art museum on a Warwickshire estate that is our former client.

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Barry Lord

About The Author

Barry Lord is the author of Art & Energy: How Culture Changes (The AAM Press, 2014) and Co-President of Lord Cultural Resources.

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