Inter-Holiday Criticism: New Year’s Resolution

What the Industry Needs to Do to Look and Feel Better in 2021

By Polina Lyapustina
(Photo: Danielle Macinnes)

Every Friday, Polina Lyapustina delivers a short essay on some of the most sensitive topics in the industry with the intent of establishing a dialogue about the opera world and its future. The choice of topics discussed, how they are researched, and how they are portrayed is conducted independently of OperaWire’s editors. 

The opera industry was having a weird time this year. Like all of us, they spent most of the year locked in four walls, communicating with their audience on Zoom, checking the archives in search of anything to diversify a boring everyday routine, and discovering the possibilities of remote work. We are all equal in the face of the crisis, and it seems that even the whole opera industry is no exception.

As Christmas passed, the special time has come and set us to nest at our warm places (like we didn’t do it the whole year), enjoying the silence of native walls. We are supposed now to reflect on what we have achieved in 2020 and write foolishly pretentious New Year’s resolutions. But this year, locked in the flats that many of us grew to hate, we can only celebrate the fact that we made it to the end of the year.

Meanwhile, psychologists suggest people take it easy on the self-improvement quest in 2021. Well, I never wrote any for myself, but I guess this suggestion to stop challenging ourselves will be very welcomed by many people. Ah, yes, please. We all know another year of fights is coming, and any extra obligation sounds unadaptable. 

Yet, not for all of us, I guess. At the end of this hazardous year, it strikes me that any intentions plotting the opera industry’s reset would be the right idea.

So, let’s write them all down. What could the industry hope to improve in the coming year? To look and to feel better, to work more effectively, and to be happier? After all, isn’t that the point of any New Year’s resolution?!


  1. Examine your relationship with classics and find something new in the old wardrobe.
  2. Have fewer expectations and rely only on yourself.
  3. Examine and restore the quality of old and new productions.
  4. Keep holding important conversations (like equality, #metoo, #blacklivesmatter).


  1. Develop better and healthier relationships with streaming-services.
  2. Build cross-institution relationships between theater companies.


  1. Stage productions that fit now. Remember that the world is changing.
  2. Get quality feedback from the audience.
  3. Become Online and Global. Launch own streaming platform.


  1. Discover the new approaches and repertory for studio recordings.
  2. Cooperate with the best professionals in video production.
  3. Make money and cut costs (preferably not at the expense of employees’ salaries).


  1. Take care of your workers.
  2. Educate your audience.
  3. Work with the younger audience (without a delusion that getting online is enough).

And never to forget:

Wash hands, drink more water, and take vitamin D.

As I imagine, to write it down is not enough. Now it’s time to share it with friends and get inspired by their cheering vows. What would you say about that? Would you hope the industry to solve it all?

These days, after watching numerous Holiday concerts from different continents (most of them quite similar), and still sitting under the most serious restrictions in the country the worst affected by COVID-19 (in the last month of 2020), I would not glow with hope and say “Yes, you’ll do it!”

But since we decided that we are all equal, I suggest not to require from the industry too much — after all, only 8 percent of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. But it’s always good to remember what could and actually must be done. For the better lives of millions of opera workers and for preserving this incredible art-form for today and the future.