Small NYC Opera Companies Band Together in New Alliance

Saturday, April 13, 2013 - 12:00 AM

A new organization designed to serve New York City’s small, grassroots opera companies launches this week.

The New York Opera Alliance wants to help independent companies and producers share marketing, fundraising, costumes and other production resources. Nineteen companies have signed up so far, from veteran groups like the Bronx Opera Company to newcomers such as On Site Opera.

The idea for the New York Opera Alliance began with Peter Szep, a conductor, and Gina Crusco, artistic director of Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble. They took it to Cori Ellison, who is on the faculty of the American Lyric Theater. Ellison said one of the group’s first steps was to create a website where the companies can share their schedules.

“There is such an embarrassment of riches in the New York opera scene," she said. "There are so many different companies doing so many very interesting, different kinds of things, but very often their schedules were colliding. It wasn’t possible to see all the things you wanted to see.”

Currently, small opera troupes end up cannibalizing each others' audiences, and don't always emphasize their own distinctive qualities to opera fans, Ellison added.

The New York Opera Alliance gets logistical support from Opera America, a national service organization. Members will pay annual dues. Future plans include an annual festival of small opera companies in New York.

Organizers of the alliance estimate there are around 70 organizations that present opera performances in New York, often in small theaters, living rooms, parks, bars and restaurants.

Updated 4/14/13

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Comments [6]

mimi stern-wolfe from 310 East2th street

How great for the small companies to have gotten together.

We would love to be part of this endeavor, having spent many years of my life conducting and producing chamber opera porductions.

May. 08 2013 02:35 PM
GENE TYBURN from SANTA BARBARA

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May. 05 2013 01:29 PM
Brunhilde from nyc

Bravo,bravo,bravo! Thank heaven something is being done to salvage the brutalized opera world of NYC! Thank you Corri Ellison. We can and must support the little companies....they're wonderful and necessary. The experience is invaluable to singers. (However, those at $40 a ticket puts them in an impossible category.) God knows the Met doesn't provide ANY support or experience to American singers....unless you're a "winner"! Winners become winners with experience and support! Even then it's hard. New York City Opera was once a forum for young American singers....now, what's left of it is a forum for stage directors.

Apr. 16 2013 11:47 AM
Lynne Hayden-Findlay from NYC

While two of the goals of NYOA are to coordinate programming (when possible) and share resources among its participants, the larger goal is to bring awareness to the general public of the breadth and depth of opera productions around the five boroughs. Chelsea Opera has been around for nearly nine years and there are still people who say, "hey, I never heard of you!" We jokingly respond that Chelsea Opera is one of the best kept secrets in NYC! But we don't want to be a secret! We want the opera loving public to come see our intimate productions, and those of our colleague companies who present such a culturally rich and diverse world of opera!

Apr. 13 2013 05:23 PM
Benjamin Spierman from Bronx, NY

To support what Gina says, we all acknowledge that the founding of NYOA was by the troika of Peter, Gina and Cori. We're glad they got the ball rolling:)

Benjamin Spierman
Associate Artistic Director
Bronx Opera Company

Apr. 13 2013 04:24 PM
Gina Crusco from New York, NY

Thank you for the wonderful story and hats off to the opera producers who have made this a reality. I want to note that it is not entirely accurate to state that the "idea for the New York Opera Alliance began with Peter Szep, a conductor, and Cori Ellison, who’s on the faculty of the American Lyric Theater."

I invited Cori Ellison and Peter Szep to meet with me around my idea of a consortium of independent opera companies on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 and it was there they met each other for the first time. I compiled the list of companies; I wrote and sent the initial email invitation; I wrote the agenda; I set up the meeting; and I chaired or co-chaired the meetings from August 2011 through December 2011. On January 12, 2012, Marc Scorca of Opera America sent me the following email.

Dear Gina:
The fact that the meeting happened at all is because of the leadership you have provided over time to get us to this exciting point. I look forward to learning of the next steps.

Very best regards,
Marc (my father was Gino, so we must be related)

Gina Crusco
Artistic Director
Underworld Productions Opera

Apr. 13 2013 12:45 PM

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