Tuesday, May 3, 2016

NY Opera Fest: An exciting time to be an operaphile in NYC!

From Anna Mikhailova's video opera
'in the distance go on forever/
the story of contemporary frankenstein,'
scheduled for MAY 6 & 7 at the
Anthology Film Archives.
Photo: Experiments in Opera
Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Peter Szep, who is in charge of the exciting New York Opera Fest, currently running in and around NYC. The Opera Fest is organized by New York Opera Alliance, a consortium of over 40 independent opera companies in New York, ranging from more established companies like Bronx Opera and Regina Opera (both of which have been featured in these pages) to newer, more experimental groups like Rhymes With Opera and Experiments in Opera. The festival opened last week with an event at Opera America headquarters honoring WQXR's revered opera columnist Fred Plotkin, with performances from NY Opera Fest participating companies Opera Upper West, On Site Opera, Bronx Opera, and Regina Opera.

Following are just some of the exciting offerings presented as part of NY Opera Fest:

Ardea Arts presents “BOUNCE: The Basketball Opera”
Performed on an actual basketball court, BOUNCE is grounded in contemporary issues facing today’s youth.

Center for Contemporary Opera presents “The Wild Beast of the Bungalow.”
A new work by Rachel Peters and Royce Vavrek, part of CCO’s Development Series.

Hunter Opera Theater presents Jake Heggie’s “At the Statue of Venus.”
Accompanied by several opera shorts by composer Richard Burke.

On Site Opera presents North American premiere of Portugal’s “The Marriage of Figaro.”
A site-specific production of Beaumarchais beloved comedy at the opulent West Village townhouse 632 on Hudson.

Opera on Tap presents New Brew Series.
Curated concerts of new music, with a focus on music written by local composers.

Opera Upper West presents two classic 20th Century operas.
Poulenc’s “Le voix humane” and Menotti’s “The Telephone,” seen through a modern prism. 

Paula Kimper Ensemble presents “Patience and Sarah - A Pioneering Love Story.”
A revival of Paula Kimper’s opera, with two staged concert performances for Pride Week.

Spectrum Symphony of New York, New York Baroque Dance Co, and Deborah Mason present "Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock Opera-Oratorio.”
Alexander Pope's exquisite poetry set to music in a modern madrigal style.

Vertical Player Repertory presents the North American premiere of Giovanni Pacini’s “Malvina di Scozia.”
Pacini’s controversial opera based on a true story. Its first performance in over 150 years.
This is just a partial list. Check the web site to see a complete listing and calendar.

Opera on Tap will present several
programs in area bars
Photo: Opera on Tap
What comes next for NY Opera Alliance? In addition to NY Opera Fest 2.0, already in its planning stages, Mr. Szep envisions expanding the consortium's support activities with workshops on topics like fund raising and development, and finding and managing volunteers. He also spoke of a database of shared resources, including lists of recommended production personnel (lighting designers, stage managers, etc.).

From NYOA's formation in 2011, founders Mr. Szep, Gina Crusco, and Cori Ellison envisioned a festival featuring the work of many different opera groups. NYOA has grown from four organizations to more than 40, and since 2013 the consortium has been fiscally sponsored by OPERA America. Mr. Szep states,"We believe that New Yorkers and visitors to New York alike can be better informed about the breadth, range and vitality of New York City’s opera-producing community. Together we aspire to increase awareness of participating organizations, share ideas and resources, and generate revenue for collaborative projects."

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