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Opera Theatre of St. Louis Announces 2020-21 Digital Season

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Opera Theatre will transform its Sally S. Levy Opera Center into a filming studio.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) announced a bold 2020-21 season full of historic company firsts, from a diverse line-up of dynamic, digital performances during the winter months to an open-air Festival Season in Spring 2021. This fresh vision of OTSL's artistic programming offers an exciting opportunity to serve audiences and communities safely during the time of COVID-19 while continuing to produce the innovative, world-class work for which the company has become known.

To accomplish this ambitious slate of projects, Opera Theatre will transform its Sally S. Levy Opera Center into a filming studio. OTSL's digital performances will be crafted to reach new communities across the nation and to engage and educate new audiences. This digital series includes reductions of Gilbert and Sullivan's comedy The Pirates of Penzance and Puccini's beloved La bohème, featuring an ensemble cast of current and former Gerdine Young Artists, before culminating in a New Works, Bold Voices Lab. The lab - which expands upon OTSL's acclaimed series of New Works, Bold Voices commissions - will feature three world premiere 20-minute operas by composer Damien Sneed and librettist Karen Chilton, composer Laura Karpman and librettist Taura Stinson, and composer Steven Mackey.

"As we looked ahead to the coming year, we wanted to get back to our mission of creating art while keeping our artists and audience members as safe as possible," said General Director Andrew Jorgensen. "We are undaunted by the challenges of our time and are adapting to serve our audiences and community with even more opera year-round. I am so grateful to our incredible Board of Directors, who encouraged us not to limit performances to our six-week Festival Season or to the confines of a theater - they gave us a clear mandate to think outside the box. We took that challenge and ran with it, creating new approaches to how OTSL can present this magnificent art form."

Following the release of these virtual programs, Opera Theatre will return live and in-person for its 46th Festival Season next May, reuniting audiences and artists for open-air, socially distanced performances. The 2021 Festival Season, which is planned to take place on the campus of Webster University, will open with the world premiere of the revised edition of Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie's Harvey Milk, followed by a double bill of William Grant Still's gripping Highway 1, U.S.A. and Puccini's lighthearted Gianni Schicchi. The season continues with a compilation of four dramatic stories about love and revenge titled On the Battlefield of Broken Hearts, and the annual Center Stage concert featuring singers from OTSL's Richard Gaddes Festival Artist and Gerdine Young Artist Programs. Opera Theatre will also present a celebration of Black composers and singers in its first-ever Juneteenth Concert. Opera Theatre's 2021 season will mark the 44th year of the company's collaboration with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

The company's guidelines for safely filming and performing opera have been developed in consultation with the premier medical authorities in the St. Louis region, including infectious disease experts from the Washington University School of Medicine and the VA St. Louis Health Care System. Opera Theatre's season will also closely observe the health protocols established by Webster University for the safe operation of its campus.

"We cannot wait to return to creating live art for a live audience," said General Director Andrew Jorgensen. "In keeping with our commitment to new music and young talent, we feel incredibly fortunate to be in a position that allows us to invest directly in artists and composers during these unprecedented times - as well as to continue our partnership with the acclaimed St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. I believe that the challenges currently facing our art form will push us to be more creative and adaptive, resulting in opera that is even more accessible, engaging, and captivating than before."

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