Unconventional Opera

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New York’s opera houses, even the smaller companies, maintain the grand tradition with aplomb. But several other groups have created alternative ways of experiencing and interacting with this art form. Some consume opera with pints of ale, while others question the definition of opera itself. Here are our Top 5 @ 105 Unconventional Opera experiences.

1.  This year, the Brooklyn Academy of Music inaugurates its opera festival inviting baroque specialist William Christie and his ensemble, Les Arts Florissants, for a two-week immersion into the 17th century. The schedule includes performances of three operas, a number of intimate cabarets and artist talks in this in-depth exploration.

2. There’s no better place to see the future of opera in the U.S. than at New York City Opera’s Vox. This self-titled Contemporary American Opera Lab presents 20-minute selections of up to 12 works in progress. This year another 10 operas from names like Missy Mazzoli, Michael Gordon and David T. Little will be added to the list.

3. Every two months at Barbés in Park Slope and Parkside Lounge on East Houston, Opera on Tap takes arias from behind a grand proscenium out and into local watering holes. Their dressed-down, affordable and approachable concerts have caught on around the country. Last fall, the group collaborated with Beth Morrison Projects and VisionIntoArt to hold similarly casual evenings focused solely on contemporary music.

4. The Metropolitan Opera pioneered the art of the High Definition broadcast, but it didn’t take long for other companies to follow suit. Symphony Space has been importing films of live stagings from around the globe. Coming up: a Siegfried from Valencia, Salome from Bologna and Aida and Don Carlo from La Scala.

5. In April, Ilya Kabakov and his wife Emilia will present their Vertical Opera at the Guggenheim Museums’ Works in Progress series. The conceptual artist may be using a loose definition of opera for his installation piece--in which he will pair a visual presentation with musical accompaniment--or he may be expanding our idea of opera.

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Comments [1]

Jack Micher from New York, NY

There are at least 2 more Unconventional Opera experiences that belong on your list: 1) Dicapo Opera, a beautiful jewelbox theatre in Manhattan at Lexington & 76th Street - wonderful singers, a good orchestra, high production values, and an intimate opera experience; 2) One World Symphony, which has been covering a lot of opera repertoire in recent seasons, gives concert and semi-staged productions in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Websites are http://Dicapo.com and http://OneWorldSymphony.org

Mar. 20 2010 12:04 AM

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