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(San Francisco, CA.) - Santa Fe is where so much of my opera journey started, so it was a pleasure to join librettist Andrea Fellows Walters at NÜART GALLERY for a November #Operatawk. It was a wonderful, hilarious, and extra delightful 30 minute conversation, and our live Periscope broadcast seemed to work perfectly. However, unknown while we were live, the gallery's adobe walls were more of a broadcast challenge than previously understood (we'd done a test run earlier that week without any problems). Our broadcast experienced several stoppages with less than 100 percent focus. As a result, our 30 minutes ultimately becoming a content-rich ten, these are the Periscope breaks! However, thanks to the magic of iMovie cross dissolves, we're thrilled to present this repackaged #Operatawk | 8!
Andrea and I began our #Operatawk discussing our 2015 meeting, which was basically a blind date at the Starbucks in Placitas, New Mexico! Arranged by Santa Fe Opera Director of Media & Public Relations Director Daniel Zillmann, our meet up was part of my strategic storytelling work with Santa Fe Opera, in an effort to learn more about Andrea's work as Director of Education and Community Outreach. We discussed how her area's unique stories might be supercharged across traditional and social channels for the season and beyond. Andrea also recalled her first opera experience at the University of New Mexico, which led to SRO @ SFO experiences, and eventually a box office job before she headed off to grad school. Andrea's experience over the course of her career has led to one conclusion: "Opera itself is the uber-manifestation of collaborative art."
We moved onto Fellows Walters' "UnShakeable" (with composer Joseph Illick), a piece Santa Fe Opera commissioned in 2014 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death (#Shakespeare400). Profiled in The New York Times, this chamber opera, which Andrea set in a dystopia future, features some innovative audience participation, including a Hamlet-inspired storytelling device; the world-premiere production featured former SFO Apprentice and current Royal Opera House Jette Parker Young Artist Jacquelyn Stucker, and New York City-based baritone Samuel Schultz. Look for another production of "UnShakeable" during SFO's Spring 2019 Tour.
Our next topic was "Trinity," a New Mexico-centric opera originally commissioned for Santa Fe Opera's 50th Anniversary. Drawing from New Mexico's history of World War II POW camps, Fellows Walters' story of first love, the power of rocks, Trinitite, and time enchanted me - cue the opera storytelling innovation! Luckily, in the lead up to this summer's "Dr. Atomic," Santa Fe Opera will stage "Trinity" again this spring, more details here.
Lastly, we touched on Opera for All Voices, an opera startup Andrea and her colleagues recently launched across a consortium of American companies. It's also one to watch! From Santa Fe Opera's website: "Opera for All Voices was born out of the need for works with outstanding artistic quality that can still reach all audiences via both accessibility of subject material and manageable budgets. The project also addresses the serious need to bring new audiences to opera by commissioning important works that speak to all voices, designed with modern attention spans in mind, and aimed at breaking down pre-conceived notions that opera is antiquated or elitist. The Opera for All Voices (OFAV) consortium companies include the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Minnesota Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, The Santa Fe Opera, San Francisco Opera, Sarasota Opera and Seattle Opera." Made possible by funding from the Melville Hankins Family Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, an OPERA America Innovation Grant, and support by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, OFAV's new works invitational is currently in process, with juried selections by mid-January 2018. Per Santa Fe Opera: "Winners will receive a workshop, the opportunity to premiere their opera at one of the partner companies listed above, as well as, the opportunity for subsequent performances at other partner companies. Additionally, each composer and librettist team selected for the invitational will have the opportunity to be mentored by one of the lead composer and librettist teams." OFAV's upcoming 2019 and 2020 commissions were discussed. Per LauraKaminsky.com: "The first new work will receive its premiere in 2019 at Santa Fe Opera, composed by Augusta Read Thomas with a libretto by Dutton Downer. The second commission will be composed by Laura Kaminsky with a libretto by Kimberly Reed and is slated to premiere at San Francisco Opera in 2020."
A forthcoming #OperatawkExtra with Fellows Walters will cover some of the topics our live video didn't successfully capture, including a recap of SFO's Winter Tour of "Shoes for the Santo Niño," a one-act opera commissioned by The University of New Mexico for the New Mexico Centenary. This piece was composed by Stephen Paulus with a libretto by Fellow-Walters, and featured former SFO Apprentices Sarah Coit and Jorge Espino. We will also delve into Andrea's upcoming education work surrounding Santa Fe Opera's 2018 production of "Dr. Atomic."
Enduring thanks to NÜART GALLERY's Peter Gaugy, who so kindly facilitated our use of one of Canyon Road's most gorgeous gallery spaces! We appreciate his kindness, friendship, and beyond the call of duty hosting. We're also thrilled to have showcased the artwork of internationally renowned, Texas-based artist Cecil Touchon. Via NÜART GALLERY Contemporary Fine Art: "Cecil Touchon is a painter, performance artist, collector, draftsman, photographer, and curator. But it is through his collage work that he has made his most lasting mark. His collages are the seeds that grow into his other practices. Touchon's paintings are abstractions based upon typography. Using the techniques of collage, he reassembles portions of letter fonts from billboards and printed material into pure abstractions that transform verbal language into a form of visual architecture." JM
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