MassOpera and OperaHub Announce Partnership to Re-Imagine New Opera Workshop
After two successful collaborations with Washington National Opera (2018) and Chicago Opera Theater (2019), respectively producing orchestral workshops of Kamala Sankaram and Jerre Dye's Taking Up Serpents and Dan Shore's Freedom Ride, MassOpera begins a new joint-partnership with OperaHub for the re-imagined New Opera Workshop (NOW). The goal and mission of NOW is to develop new chamber opera through a process that reflects and examines our current world OR our hope for the future, utilizing a diverse range of performing artists and collaborators. Additionally, NOW will support the writing and development of new chamber operas with the intention of broadening the new American canon.
NOW will explore innovative ways of storytelling, require the majority of roles be for women including a broad variety of roles for diverse women, and foster process-driven opera development, supported by a collaborative team of performers and artistic / production personnel. MassOpera Director of New Works Cassandra Lovering adds "we are incredibly grateful to have partnered with the Washington National Opera and Chicago Opera Theater. When I joined MassOpera as Producing Artistic Director, I knew that developing a space to play, create and imagine new opera would be integral to our work . Through NOW, our companies will explore the ways in which new work is made by tailoring each process to empower the creators. In OperaHub, MassOpera finds a partner that embodies the same commitment to creating new, inclusive opera."
In addition to MassOpera's experience with the New Opera Workshop, OperaHub has produced several new and reinvented works and experimented with the opera production process. OperaHub's most recent production, 2018's DIVAS, a collaboration with DIVA Museum, commissioned a script by Laura Neill that wove together thirteen opera excerpts for nine women performers who had been hired to portray nine historical opera divas. 2014's Der Vampyr featured a commissioned English-language libretto by John J King that reimagined the roles of the women in Heinrich Marschner's 1828 opera. Other new work has included workshop excerpts of the new chamber opera The Ten-Block Walk by Erin Huelskamp and Christie Lee Gibson, and a second production of Michael Ching's a capella setting of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Three OperaHub small-ensemble productions have been collaboratively directed by the cast, pianist, and stage management team; several have included unconventional elements like live electronic synthesizer sampling, extended fight choreography, and found-object puppetry.
OperaHub's General Director Christie Gibson explains that: "The vast majority of performers going into the field over the past 20+ years have been women, and yet even over the past decade, new operas produced in the U.S. have featured four times as many roles for the men available as for the women available. Since DIVAS closed, I have been looking for a significant way to support the creation of new works that make space for the wealth of talent and diversity among the women training and working in opera, so am very excited to launch this partnership with MassOpera."
MassOpera and the New Opera Workshop: As part of its rebrand in 2018, MassOpera realized that it had accomplished much of what it set out to do when it was founded in 2007. Gender parity in casting had been a cornerstone of the company's choice of repertoire, and with so few operas providing gender parity, it quickly became apparent that MassOpera needed to move into the space of creating new work. Therefore, the New Opera Workshop was born, and over 2 years MassOpera partnered with two national companies, Washington National Opera and Chicago Opera Theater, producing two orchestral workshops in advance of the operatic premieres with these larger companies. This model was great for launching the New Opera Workshop and making a name for the newly minted MassOpera. We are thrilled to be partnering with OperaHub now to help with the development of new opera, the idea stage, to libretto, to composition, to piano workshop, orchestral workshop, and eventually a premiere production. This is what we always wanted NOW to be, and now with OperaHub, we can make it a reality.
MassOpera and OperaHub announced a call for creator proposal submissions for our New Opera Workshop program in Boston, MA. Applications will open June 1, 2020 and close July 15, 2020. More information can be found at: https://massopera.org/new-opera-workshop/