OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, has announced that it has awarded nearly $200,000 in Audience Development grants, as part of The Opera Fund, to 16 U.S. opera companies.
OPERA America’s Audience Development grants help opera companies to implement community engagement activities that develop new audiences for American opera and music-theater, engage diverse audiences, deepen current audiences’ understanding and appreciation of new and existing American works, and increase the participation of audiences in a company’s activities.
Recipients of the Audience Development grants are: Boston Lyric Opera, The Dallas Opera, Eugene Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Houston Grand Opera,Nashville Opera, North Carolina Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis,Piedmont Opera (Winston Salem, NC), Pittsburgh Opera, Portland Opera,Tulsa Opera and Virginia Opera.
With the help of Audience Development funding, grantees will implement activities such as public lectures/demonstrations, seminars or master classes by the creators and performers of the work; events in partnership with other local cultural institutions, such as museums; residencies for creative and performing artists to work in and with the community; and creation of online and other technology-based audience development tools.
“Promoting the enjoyment of opera, especially North American opera, among new and existing audiences is an essential cornerstone of OPERA America’s mission,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO. “Through the generosity of Opera Fund donors, the Audience Development grants give OPERA America the valuable opportunity to assist opera companies nationwide with nurturing current and future opera audiences, ensuring that our art form will continue to flourish for years to come.”
Grants were awarded through a competitive application process by an independent panel of experts, including Andrea Allen, director of education at Seattle Repertory Theatre; Cori Ellison, artistic director at Opera Company of the Highlands and dramaturg; Jeanette Honig Grafman, director of operations and educational outreach at Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia; Susanne Mentzer, mezzo-soprano; and StewArt Wallace, composer. The panel evaluated the 29 grant applications based on the merit of the project, quality of the project concept, artistic merit, the strength of appropriate partnerships and the resources of the company, including the ability to fully evaluate the project.
Since its inception, The Opera Fund has enabled OPERA America to award grants of nearly $11 million to assist companies with the expenses associated with the creation, production and enjoyment of new works. In alternate years, Opera Fund grants are also awarded in the category of Repertoire Development, providing financial support to member companies and their creative partners in association with the commissioning and development of new North American opera and music-theater. Over the past 20 years, these grants have assisted opera companies with the development of works such as Akhnaten (Philip Glass),Cold Sassy Tree (Carlisle Floyd), Dead Man Walking (Jake Heggie), Elmer Gantry(Robert Aldridge), Frau Margot (Thomas Pasatieri), Little Women (Mark Adamo),Margaret Garner (Richard Danielpour), Nixon in China (John Adams), Shining Brow (Daron Hagen) and A Streetcar Named Desire (André Previn). The Opera Fund was launched by The National Endowment for the Arts, and is funded by The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Lee Day Gillespie, Lloyd and Mary Ann Gerlach, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James S. and John K. Knight Foundation and the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation.
Audience Development Grants: Project Details
Boston Lyric Opera: The Inspector by John Musto and Mark Campbell ($5,000)
In support of two lecture performance programs, which include live performances of Musto’s work: Signature Series: An Afternoon with John Musto, a to be presented at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Opera Night, presented at the Boston Public Library.
The Dallas Opera: The Aspern Papers by Dominick Argento ($15,000)
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the world premiere, The Dallas Opera will present a new production of Argento’s The Aspern Papers in April 2013. Many activities have been planned to explore themes and elements of the opera, including a free film screening, Italian food and wine tasting, an event about the cultivation of cutting flowers in collaboration with the Dallas Arboretum, a book club for The Aspern Papers novella, as well as panel discussions.
Eugene Opera: Nixon in China by John Adams and Alice Goodman ($20,000)
Eugene Opera is partnering with several local organizations, including the Confucius Institute and Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, to present educational events exploring the historical content of the opera’s plot, as well as the performance history of the work. Additionally, they will place Quick Response (QR) codes on billboards, which unlock a 10% discount on tickets; and send an original DVD to non-operagoers in zip codes of the highest number of regular opera attendees.
Fort Worth Opera: Three Decembers by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer ($9,000)
Partnering with the Modern Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth Opera will present an “Overture” event with Jake Heggie, who will describe the creation of the work, as well as its journey from premiere to various second productions. Furthermore, they will host live-streamed conversations with the composer and artists during the rehearsals leading up to the performances.
Houston Grand Opera: The Bricklayer (Working Title) by Gregory Spears and Farnoosh Moshiri ($4,500)
Part of the four-year “East + West” initiative at Houston Grand Opera, this new chamber opera will incorporate western and Iranian musical styles. In conjunction with the production, the company has planned a series of storytelling workshops, presentations about Persian artistic and historical culture to precede each performance, as well as a recording with KUHF-Houston Public Radio for broadcast via radio and online streaming.