AOP Awarded OPERA America grant to develop mobile app

May 7, 2013

AOP’S “HAVE A VOICE” APP TO ENGAGE PERFORMING ARTS AUDIENCES THROUGH TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM

Brooklyn, NY— AOP (American Opera Projects) is awarded a grant of $12,600 in the first year of OPERA America’s Building Opera Audiences grant program generously funded by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. This new grant program supports the efforts of North American opera companies to build informed, enthusiastic audiences for opera through innovative marketing projects. AOP is one of 13 organizations in the U.S. and Canada to receive funding totaling $300,000. A record-setting 67 applications totaling nearly $2 million in requests were received by OPERA America, demonstrating how vital audience development programs are to opera organizations today.

apps imageThe award will support AOP in the creation of a mobile application, currently entitled “Have a Voice,” to engage and expand opera audiences. By utilizing technology to foster feedback and discourse, the new platform aims to attract a technologically savvy audience while providing useful feedback to creative artists. “Have A Voice,” will be created as a cross-platform application that will allow an audience to share feedback at an event while simultaneously sharing content on the producer’s website and popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. An achievement rewards program will encourage users to remain active in the system in order to achieve virtual and/or physical rewards and prizes (for example: virtual badges, merchant discounts, tickets to participating partner events, etc.).

AOP will partner with other performing arts organizations during the initial year of the application (BETA phase) to provide input and test its effectiveness in anticipation of a public launch in 2014. Current organizations participating are Mark Morris Dance Group, Theatre For a New Audience, Irondale Ensemble Project, and The Brick (Brooklyn, NY), HERE Arts Center (New York, NY), Opera On Tap (based in New York, NY with 12 national chapters), Opera Memphis (Memphis, TN), and UrbanArias (Arlington, VA). AOP’s goal is to share the “Have a Voice” brand with a wide range of performing arts companies so as to encourage the participation, attendance, and rewards amongst an ever-increasing network, while specifically enhancing awareness of the creative profile of opera.

As the national nonprofit service organization, OPERA America leads and serves the entire opera community, supporting the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera. “As entertainment options continue to grow, opera companies face increased competition for audiences,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “The Building Opera Audiences grant program provides funding to experiment with innovative projects that help engage new and retain current audiences, ensuring that opera and opera companies continue to flourish.”

Each funded project will be documented and evaluated throughout its lifespan. The results will be shared with the opera field, so that other organizations can learn from and replicate projects in their communities.

The idea for the app came from AOP Producing Director Matt Gray with the goal to better gather audience feedback that is at the core of AOP’s mission to develop and produce new works. “Our audiences are wonderfully unique. They love witnessing every step of the creative process. But getting them to comfortably express their thoughts about what they had experienced was a challenge. Comment cards, online polls, blog posts, Q&A sessions with the creators – each has its advantages and disadvantages. Putting the ability to respond in the format of their choice – written, video, audio, multiple choice – at the event itself while an audience’s ideas are still fresh, we had always known was going to be the key. Only now has the technology caught up to make that happen. It was OPERA America’s desire to attract new audiences that made us think beyond just using the app as a private tool for ourselves and share it with a network of performing arts companies, and ultimately our various audiences.”

The complete list of organizations receiving Building Opera Audiences grants is: American Opera Projects (Brooklyn, NY), Arizona Opera (Phoenix, AZ), Florentine Opera Company (Milwaukee, WI), Los Angeles Opera, Madison Opera, Opera on the James (Lynchburg, VA), Opera Memphis, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, San Francisco Opera, Sarasota Opera, Seattle Opera, Syracuse Opera and Vancouver Opera.

The Building Opera Audiences grant program is made possible through the generosity of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.


MSM Opera Program to Showcase Scenes from New Opera “Decoration”

September 11, 2012

Selections from an eerie, hallucinatory new opera Decoration by Composers & the Voice fellow Mikael Karlsson will be presented by the Manhattan School of Music’s opera department in a program of new operas in March 2013. One of the “Six Scenes” performed this past weekend at an AOP showcase of various operas in development, Decoration follows the pre-apocalyptic journey of two sisters – one pregnant, one dying – and their extremely different outlooks on the future.

Composer Mikael Karlsson (photo by Anna Österlund)

Decoration scenes, libretto by the composer and David Flodén, will be performed in a staged reading by MSM voice students at Greenfield Hall as part of the annual New American Opera Previews, from Page to Stage series, hosted by WQXR’s Midge Woolsey, produced by Opera Index. The selection was made by a panel of judges including Assistant Dean of Opera Studies/Opera Production at MSM Gordon Ostrowski and Head Coach William Tracy.

The nationally recognized Composers & the Voice (C&V) is a fellowship for six composers or composer/librettist teams to work with an artistic team, headed by Steven Osgood, and AOP’s Resident Ensemble of Singers. The primary focus of C&V is to give composers extensive experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice. With each new group of fellows, sponsorships are named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice.

Tobias Picker

Composer Tobias Picker (American Tragedy) served as a Mikael Karlsson’s “Composer Chair,” providing a one-on-one mentorship throughout the year. Other Composer Chairs during the past C&V season included John Corigliano, Daron Hagen, John Musto, Kaija Saariaho, and Stephen Schwartz.

Decoration marks the ninth presentation by MSM of opera excerpts to come out of  C&V.  Previous C&V operas have included “The Summer King” by Daniel Sonenberg, “Exiles” by Renee Favand-See, “Dream President” by Jennifer Griffith, “The Golden Gate” by Conrad Cummings, “Death in Summer” by Gregg Wrammage, “Paul’s Case” by Gregory Spears, “Henry’s Wife” by Randall Eng, and “Love/Hate” by Jack Perla, which went on to a world premiere in April 2012 in partnership with The San Francisco Opera.

Music from C&V fellows will also be programmed at upcoming presentations by OPERAtion Brooklyn and the BEAT Festival, Opera Memphis and AOP Artistic Partner The Walt Whitman Project.

“For the composers selected the implications are many and very rewarding,” said C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood. “Each of them will have their music brought to a wider and diverse audience [and] each of them will forge relationships with major artistic institutions, which is today an increasingly difficult hurdle for emerging artists.”

Composers & the Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Fellows in the C&V program are supported by funding from The New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund and Musical Arts Fund.


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