AOP’s Charles Jarden talks to The Washington Post about the art of opera development

October 21, 2013
AOP General Director Charles Jarden, with composer and Phoenix Concerts Artistic Director Gilda Lyons, introduces an AOP 25th anniversary concert, October 2013.

AOP General Director Charles Jarden, with composer and Phoenix Concerts Artistic Director Gilda Lyons, introduces an AOP 25th anniversary concert, October 2013.

“Developing new opera is an art in itself” states last week’s Washington Post article, and of course AOP couldn’t agree more! For her October 16 article, veteran classical music journalist Anne Midgette highlighted AOP’s role in creating a new American repertory and interviewed General Director Charles Jarden about the importance of the workshop process.

“Opera is complex enough to take on layers, like a snowball,” Jarden says, “and developing workshops, and showing workshops, and having capable press look at workshops, is a way to make everything better and grow the buzz.”

For 25 years AOP audiences have been able to participate in the workshopping process with the artists and will continue to do so in the next few months with previews of our opera-in-development Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom at Harlem’s Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture on Dec. 9, among others. The results of our workshops can be seen and heard in the Washington area in November when UrbanArias presents two AOP-developed monodramas from composer Daniel Felsenfeld –  Nora, In the Great Outdoors (2011) and Alice in the Time of the Jabberwock.  “Nora” boasts an AOP-commissioned libretto by Will Eno and will be sung by dynamic soprano Emily Pulley.  The UrbanArias orchestra is led by Robert Wood and the stage director is Beth Greenberg (AOP’s Harriet Tubman). Also in the DC area, AOP-commissioned and developed Lost Childhood, (Hamer/Azrael) which was  staged at Tel Aviv’s International Vocal Arts Institute, will receive a non-staged orchestral concert including original AOP cast members Michael Hendrick and Chris Trakas, in their roles of Judah and Manfred, respectively, on November 9. COMPLETE ARTICLE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/developing-new-operas-is-an-art-in-itself/2013/10/16/f7849c26-3687-11e3-8a0e-4e2cf80831fc_story.html

Anne Midgette blogs about current state of American opera

July 8, 2010

Anne Midgette, well-known blogger and columnist for The Washington Post, has recently completed a two-part exposé on the state of American opera today.  Citing numerous recent productions across the country, including AOP-developed projects Democracy and Before Night Falls, Midgette described the myriad changes the opera world appears to be undergoing.

American opera is at a crossroads. A production of a new work at a large house costs millions of dollars — hundreds of thousands in commissioning fees alone. It’s a lot to spend on something geared toward the tastes of a narrow target audience, for which there is no mass demand, at a time of shrinking budgets. … The continuing spate of new works shows that the field is at least poking at the idea of creativity, and audiences, however gingerly, are starting to go along with it. The field’s next challenge is to find better ways to reward the good.

- Anne Midgette, “Is Anybody Listening?”, The Washington Post

AOP takes pride in being at the forefront of this movement towards new American opera. To read the full blogs, start with part one, “Is anybody listening? American opera faces crossroads as audiences for performing arts slide”, then proceed to part two, “New American operas are going the way of smaller venues, on smaller scales”.

Certainly a lot of food for thought. Enjoy!


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