Forging New Connections

Broken down to its essentials, opera is a very fluid, through-composed, structure that requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Theoretically it can accomodate a wide variety of story-telling approaches (as in a discussion I had recently with Bobak Salehi about the possibility of producing an opera grounded in Persian music). But can an opera company incorporate non-operatic performances of art music? Should importing other musical disciplines be the role of any opera company? What if an “outsider” artist offers a vision that is powerful, unique, and capable of moving a new audience? On the other hand, what happens to our art form once you break away entirely away from the classical model?

A key belief for our artistic staff is that western classical music should not stand separate from other highly crafted art or music forms. One reasons we are so pleased with our Composer-in-Remote-Residence, Kenneth Froelich, is his comfort in incorporating influences from jazz to bluegrass. Is this the furthest that we’ll ever go in incorporating other musical forms? Perhaps not – depending on the execution and available artists.

It is my goal to explore the boundaries of opera as we build a healthy and successful business. And I hope that other artists will also provide their own answers to the above questions. With so much talent and craft in the performing arts world, I believe that opera has a real opportunity to gain relevance and new audiences in the future – but we’ll need a lot of new ideas from many different sources to accomplish this.  It will be interesting to see what the future holds.

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~ by Madelaine Coffman on September 11, 2009.

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