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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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Original Article:
The Blind Leap of Leadership
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning and Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content
"I need you to jump off a cliff."
— President Josiah Bartlett, "The West Wing," Season 6, episode 3 ("Third Day Story")

It's not exactly the warmest, most enthusiastic job offer ever; yet, in many ways, assuming a position of leadership requires a leap of faith. Whether an individual is a new CEO or it is his or her first time supervising staff, being an effective leader requires a delicate blend of personal know-how and interpersonal skills.

Related Article(s):
Arts Advocacy: Four Easy Steps
Haley Gordon, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Hundreds of arts advocates traveled to Washington, D.C. at the end of March to lobby Congress to support federal policies that would benefit the arts. As part of Arts Advocacy Day 2008, OPERA America members expressed their concerns in House and Senate offices about the President’s FY09 budget request, which proposes significant cuts to arts and cultural programs. They also described the multitude of issues that affect the opera field — from federal funding and visa processing for foreign guests artists to international cultural exchange and charitable giving incentives.
Creating and Performing Educational Programs
Kathy Erlandson Soroka ,
As young singers await their big career opportunities, they may lose sight of the opportunities they have now to practice their craft and share generously with audiences. Young singers often forget the most important part of being an artist — connecting their humanity to the music and to their audiences.
Highlights from the 2007 Annual Field Report
Larry Bomback and Anthony Cekay ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
OPERA America's Annual Field Report (AFR) is based on the Professional Opera Survey (POS) that member opera companies complete each year, submitting details of their annual financial, performance and attendance activity. The 2007 AFR covers the fiscal year that ended during calendar year 2007, and includes data reaching back to 2003, summarizing key facts and trends in the United States and Canada.
A New Stage for Artists
Thomas May ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
The long-dominant model of what defines a performing artist's career is undergoing a rapid paradigm shift. Teaching artists are poised to replace the divas of stereotype with a new approach to the art of performance — both on and off stage.
Opera Ed 101
Paula Winans, Director of Education, Lyric Opera of Kansas City ,
When you are hired to sing at an opera company, singing your best is certainly a priority, but not your only consideration. In this volume of Voices, our series highlights expert advice on various components of working well with the company who hires you. Our last issue focused on the relationship between you — the singer — and stage management. This issue's article looks at the relationship between you and the company's education department.
OPERA America's Action-Oriented Think Tanks
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
OPERA America's Conference is the largest and most visible annual gathering of the opera community — but it is not the only time opera stakeholders come together. Throughout the year, OPERA America convenes meetings of industry leaders around specific topics. Although the discussions vary in size, scope and regularity, they share a common commitment — a commitment to action. Participants not only discuss challenges, they identify steps they can take, from the incremental to the profound, to advance the field.
Learning to Lead
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Those who aspire to a career in law attend law school; those who aspire to a career in medicine attend medical school. Legendary leaders in the opera field have taken a variety of paths to their professional destinations — destinations that were, for some, unexpected. Whether they entered the field as stagehands or sopranos, most of these successful leaders have shown a knack for managing their own education, often identifying and seizing learning opportunities in the most unlikely situations.

Until fairly recently, few of opera's senior managers had formal academic training in management. As more and more colleges and universities offer study in the business of the arts, aspiring and established arts managers are increasingly taking advantage of them. However, there appears to be no consensus on a single "best way" to acquire the myriad skills it takes to run an opera company — or a department within one. Interviews with a number of senior managers within the opera field revealed a variety of approaches to managing one's education — both inside and outside the classroom.
Preparing the Professional Singer for the 21st Century
Susan Ashbaker, et al ,
At the recent convention of National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) a number of experts from across the field gathered to answer questions about the business of singing. The panel included Susan Ashbaker, director of musical and artistic administration, Opera Company of Philadelphia; Diana Hossack, artistic services director, OPERA America; Donald Nally, chorus master, Opera Company of Philadelphia; Stanford Olsen, tenor; Charlotte Schroeder, artist manager, Colbert Artists Management; and Karen Tiller, general director, Opera Festival of New Jersey. The panel was moderated by Laura Brooks Rice, singer and associate professor, Westminster Choir College. In an effort to share the insightful conversation that took place, we offer this excerpt.
Handel, George Frideric: Alcina
Act 2: Recitative and Aria, “Disgombra il mio pensiero … Mi lusinga il dolce affetto” (Ruggiero)

Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago ,
Aria Talk10/1/2005
Act 2: Recitative and Aria, “Disgombra il mio pensiero … Mi lusinga il dolce affetto” (Ruggiero)
Chicago Opera Theater: Opera for All Student Program at Von Humboldt Elementary School
Deborah Oberschelp, Chicago Opera Theater ,
Chicago Opera Theater (COT) offers a broad range of educational enrichment for all ages. Students in primary grades through high school benefit from COT’s Opera for All program in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). What makes COT’s Opera for All unique is its year-long presence and participatory emphasis. In the past seven years a team of teaching fellows has taught classes in opera, theater, voice, chorus, and violin to over 3,000 CPS students. Classes are taught weekly within the school day and culminate in a student-based opera production starring both children and COT Young Artists.
Opera: A Life-Long Learning Experience — Hinckley Elementary Students Create an Original Opera
Lisa Kramer Reichel, Opera Cleveland ,
Opera Cleveland isn't the only opera in town! Travel south on I-71 a little way, hang a left on Route 303 and you'll come upon Hinckley Elementary School. You may be scratching your head at this point, but yes, as music teacher Michael McClintock stated, "We are no longer Hinckley Elementary, we're The Scientific Opera Company of Hinckley."
The Santa Fe Opera: Kids Uncover Santa Fe's Past
Dolores McElroy, Press Office Associate, The Santa Fe Opera ,
"We're just gonna stare at a rock all day?" demanded Matthew, a second grader at Carlos Gilbert Elementary. The offending rock is a granite memorial perched atop a hill that looks out over modern-day Santa Fe and its low-lying adobe buildings and churches. The memorial commemorates the 4,555 Japanese men who were interned at Camp Santa Fe from 1942 until 1946.
What I Did This Summer (What Did I Do This Summer?): Your Guide to Staying Productive During the Summer
Anne Choe, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
It is the middle of July. If many of you are like me, that statement strikes a bit of despair and wonderment in your hearts and minds. "The summer is half over! What happened to all my grand plans for the summer?" I had some pretty lofty goals for myself including losing 10 pounds (always at the top of my list), boning up on my knowledge of operatic repertoire, advancing my Italian and French skills, and breaking 90 in my golf game. Unfortunately, my better judgment fails me and I opt for fried goodness rather than salad, Knocked Up rather than Fidelio, and going for the green rather than laying-up. But it's not too late! I can still achieve the things that I'd like to by setting realistic goals, creating an advanced plan, and defining the steps needed to achieve the goals I've set for myself.
Indianapolis Opera: Making Connections between Music and Art
Andrea Johnson, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
During the last week in June, Indianapolis Opera presented their summer professional development workshop for teachers, designed around OPERA America's MUSIC! WORDS! OPERA! (M!W!O!) curriculum. The M!W!O! curriculum, written for grades K-12, introduces the conventions of opera through the study of an operatic masterpiece and gives students the tools to create and present their own original opera. But this particular week-long workshop was in no way typical — Patty Harvey, Indianapolis Opera's education director developed a unique collaboration with the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) that enhanced the teachers' study of opera while introducing them to new teaching techniques.
University of Louisville Opera Theatre: An International Marriage — A Unique Opera Exchange between the University of Louisville and a Polish Conservatory
Carrie Page, Publications and Media Relations, University of Louisville ,
When it comes to a Mozart opera, the complicated plans of the characters are a tea party compared to the actual execution of a stage production. Throw in two casts at two schools separated by an ocean, and you can begin to guess the challenges faced by the University of Louisville Opera Theatre as they mount a collaborative production of Le nozze di Figaro with the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland.
The Crane School of Music, State University of New York-Potsdam: New Opera Teaches and Reaches New Audiences
Carleen Graham, Professor of Opera, The Crane School of Music, State University of New York-Potsdam ,
"The principal was really blown away when she found out that I sang in a production with a major operatic artist!"

"My sponsor teacher loved the study guide I helped create in class and we devised a similar one I used for student teaching."

"I think what sealed the deal for me [high school music teaching job] was the fact that I had worked on so many productions and knew how to build sets, costumes and stage manage full-scale productions."

These are a few of the comments from undergraduate students who participated in The Crane Opera Ensemble's premiere of The Sailor-Boy and the Falcon, an opera composed by Paul Siskind to a libretto by Alan Steinberg, based on The Sailor-boy's Tale, a short story by Isak Dinesen. The November 2006 performances featured professional mezzo-soprano and alumna Stephanie Blythe, singing with students of The Crane Opera Ensemble and Orchestra at The State University of New York-Potsdam (SUNY-Potsdam).
Funding Education Programs
Waddy Thompson, Director of Development, Symphony Space; Peter McDowell, Director of Programs, OPERA America ,
Opera education directors will often limit themselves to creating programs as funds become available. If your education programs are good (and we're sure they are!), find ways to be proactive about finding funds, within the organization or from outside.
The Making of The Refuge
Laura Chandler, Editorial Director, Houston Grand Opera ,
The best ideas arrive on butterfly wings; they alight for a moment and then they are gone, unless they are captured, thought about, mulled over. They are not sharply defined at first; rather, they take shape gradually. They don't always bend to the will of the captor; instead they escape, fluttering and sometimes soaring above. They don't always bend to the will of the captor; instead they escape, fluttering and sometimes soaring above. HGOco, Houston Grand Opera's (HGO) new initiative for creating partnerships within the community; Song of Houston, HGOco's ongoing project to tell Houstonians' own stories in music and words; and The Refuge, the first work in the Song of Houston project all began with a flutter, but they have already taken HGO in directions the company never dreamed.
Opera's Flexibility in Connecting with Education
Paula Fowler, Director of Education and Outreach, Utah Symphony and Opera; Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
The idea of opera as an inclusive art form is not a new one. Opera touches on several aspects of the performing arts, and can be a very powerful tool when integrated with scholastic curriculum. So how exactly can you successfully align opera with other content areas?
Opera Reaches Out
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
The field of education and outreach within the world of opera is a rich landscape of companies with ties to their communities, education, teaching artistry and advancement of all kinds. For those who have an interest in creating or improving their programs, read on and learn about what some our members are doing.
Opera and Black History Month
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
In 1976, February was declared to be Black History Month in order to celebrate and honor the history and contributions of African-Americans. Opera companies all around the country have focused works and programs around this commemoration.
The Internet as a Tool for Learning
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
As technology and the Internet become more enmeshed in everyday life, new developments have been coupled with education initiatives. Arts organizations and opera presenters are adopting and integrating new trends, as well as expanding current uses of technology, to fulfill their missions.
Holocaust Remembrance through Opera and Education
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Composers have paid tribute to significant people and events through their operas, and companies have produced the works to educate audiences about history while entertaining them. Various works include John Adams’s Nixon in China, Adolphus Hailstork’s Rise for Freedom: The John P. Parker Story, Philip Glass’s Appomattox and Virgil Thompson’s The Mother of Us All. Other topics recent works have focused on are World War II composers and victims of the Holocaust.
Opera from a Sistah's Point of View
Janet Jarriel, JEJ Artists ,
Soprano Angela Brown's voice is not her only asset — she is a tremendous advocate for diversity within opera. Her program, Opera from a Sistah's Point of View, is the result of her sincere desire to bring opera and classical vocal performance to diverse audiences. She has shared her program with schools, churches and civic organizations around the country, and through opera companies' education initiatives. JEJ Artists's Janet Jarriel recently conversed with Brown about the topic.
New Opera for Young People — Creating a Repertoire
Stephen McNeff, composer ,
Most composers write music for young people at some point, and authors and poets also write for that audience, yet the Cornish poet Charles Causley said there was no such thing as "children's" poetry. Writer Philip Pullman, who came to prominence through the Whitbread Prize, startled critics as a "children's" author succeeding in an adult world. Pullman barely recognizes that there is a divide — "Children deserve the best," he says.
Education Offerings from OPERA America's Opera Conference 2008
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
This year, OPERA America's 38th Annual Conference was held in Denver, CO. The Conference, which took place within and beside the second National Performing Arts Convention (NPAC), was an enormous week of events and activities. For a complete list of the sessions and panelists discussed below, please visit and download the program book.
Opera Education Programming for State and Federal Education Standards
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Since the signing of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, arts educators from all backgrounds have experienced a reduction in the amount of time spent with their students. In fact, 30% of school districts with at least one identified school — those with students most responsive to the benefits of the arts — have decreased instructional time for art and music, according to Choices, Changes, and Challenges: Curriculum and Instruction in the NCLB Era from the Center for Education Policy. For those who service the field of education through the arts, this has required some creativity on how to make better and more significant use of their time with students.
The Significance of Opera Camps
Susan Hungerford, Production Associate, Education and Opera Camp Project Director, Opera Pacific ,
Opera Pacific's mainstage productions, extensive community outreach programs and energetic Guild Alliance combine to create a cultural resource for all of Southern California. More than 670,000 people have enjoyed Opera Pacific's productions at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, while over 575,000 young people have discovered the world of opera through the company's in-school presentations, student previews and nationally-recognized Opera Camp.
Why Family Opera?… And how what we do Might Work for Your Company
Grethe Barrett Holby, Executive Artistic Director, Family Opera Initiative/Ardea Arts ,
I think the best way to begin is to tell a story.

I had fallen in love with opera. Late. By mistake. Because of Scott Joplin's Treemonisha. And because of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach. And then Marc Blitzstein's Regina. It took some time to venture in and love the classics. In the beginning, it was the excitement of recognition, or being delighted to sing along or of being stunned by a work that broke all expectations. But as I was drawn in, I found it was hard to bring my friends with me. People didn't want to come. What was wrong with this picture? Were the people wrong? Or was the art form not speaking to the people?
Education Programs: The Big Picture
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Opera companies throughout North America produce rewarding educational opportunities for local schools and their communities. The same companies often introduce these audiences to opera — if not the arts as a whole — for the first time. With so many varied programs, it sometimes helps to take a step back and see the big picture of opera's potential in education and community programming.
There's No Place like the Opera for the Holidays
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
It's the time of year when thoughts are focused on humanity, kindness, giving, family and — of course — music! An essential part of the holidays, music can be heard almost everywhere. While everyone has their holiday music of choice, for opera listeners that choice is often Amahl and the Night Visitors
Celebrating African-American Culture through Opera
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
The arts play a vital role in celebrating and educating people about African-American history. This year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit, Provocative Visions: Race and Identity. The University of Denver’s Lamont Symphony Orchestra will participate in the program, Dream, celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr., including a performance by singer Denyse Graves. Additionally, this year's tribute to African-American history is deeper due to the election of the first African-American president. 2008 was a pivotal moment in the history of not only our country, but Black culture.
Weathering the Economic Crisis
Stephanie Golden ,
With the fundraising climate at its worst since 1998 (according to a December 2008 report by Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy), how can community arts education (CAE) organizations best meet the challenges of the economic downturn?
A Summary of Opera Education in North America
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
As the leader in conducting research and analyses for the field of opera, OPERA America produces annual benchmarking surveys that examine every aspect of the field, from finance to upcoming repertoire. The Opera Education Survey Report focuses on the educational activities of OPERA America’s Professional Company Members.
Education and Community Service at OPERA America’s Opera Conference 2009
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
While planning for this year’s annual Opera Conference, something unexpected happened — the economy turned upside down. The next few months brought news of closing companies, reductions in productions, staff layoffs and a swath of other issues. Prior to this, OPERA America had chosen the theme Making Opera Matter, which was fitting and helped respond to the field.
A Standing-Room-Only Community Project
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Last month, EducationLink summarized activities at Opera Conference 2009. The theme, Making Opera Matter, was especially relevant for education staff at opera companies, as much of the focus was on expanding educational initiatives to engage communities.
Learning to Work Together: Opera Companies and Academic Institutions
Staff ,
Opera America Magazine7/1/2009
In some cities, collaboration means local opera patrons experience a greater range of repertoire than they might otherwise. Opera Company of Philadelphia has developed a partnership with The Curtis Institute of Music to co-present one production each season, beginning with Golijov's Ainadamar in 2008. "We have always had a very strong relationship with Curtis," says David B. Devan, executive director of Opera Company of Philadelphia. "We learned there were certain pieces they wanted to produce for their singers, but the school didn't have the resources. It dawned on me that conservatories don't have a lot of marketing horsepower, but we were in a position to provide them with a substantially larger audience. We came up with an arrangement whereby Curtis would produce the show and we would market it as part of our season and then hand over the revenue, allowing them to pay their bills."
A Legacy of Leadership
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine7/1/2009
Each year, OPERA America honors leaders celebrating their 10- and 25-year anniversaries with an opera company. The recipients of this year's service awards hail from companies from across North America whose annual budgets range in size from less than $1 million to more than $25 million. Some of the companies dominate the opera scene in their cities, while others are part of a vibrant local opera ecology.

Running an opera company is challenging in the best of times, and today's uncertain economy makes it extraordinarily difficult to plan the seasons ahead. But with hard-won wisdom gained from many years of experience, these artistic and general directors strike a tone of cautious optimism as they share their learning and confirm their commitment to quality and creativity.
Creative Programming in Hard Times
Thomas May ,
Opera America Magazine7/1/2009
The majority of contemporary American opera companies sprang up after the Great Depression — which means they're now confronting the most severe economic downturn in their existence. And the performing arts are doubly vulnerable. Not only is institutional funding at risk: audiences, their very lifeblood, have also had to become more cautious about opening their wallets.
Letting the Lion Roar — Words of Wisdom on Developing and Maintaining the Dramatic Voice
Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago ,
Opera America Magazine7/1/2009
Singers with dramatic voices — those who will someday sing heavy Verdi and Wagner roles — present a special challenge for both academic and professional training programs. At meetings of OPERA America's Singer Training Forum, challenges related to the nurturing of these rare artists are a frequent topic of conversation.
The Importance and Value of Program Assessment
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Education stakeholders have long been aware of how crucial evaluation is to the success of programming. In the age of testing and assessment, arts educators should know this better than most, especially when the 2008 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in arts and music, The Nation’s Report Card: Arts 2008 Music & Visual Arts, showed marginal student achievement.
A Learning Laboratory for Opera
Adam Gustafson ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
A lot is happening as OPERA America heads into its 40th year, including a virtual facelift. A new Web site design puts OPERA America’s wealth of existing resources, along with some new additions, at the fingertips of its members in a format that is easy to navigate.
Pin the Tail on the Arts Education Donkey: Where Does Opera Fit in K-12 Public Education Today?
Richard Kessler ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
So, you're at an opera company. Perhaps you're director of education, or chair of the education committee or even general director, and you're wondering what, if anything, your K-12 education programs could or should be doing differently to connect to and address key issues. You know the discourse on K-12 public education has changed dramatically in the past few years, but you're not exactly sure how your opera company's approach should change in response. What you read in the newspaper often seems worlds away from what you thought you knew about schools.
Music! Words! Opera! Celebrates 20 Years
Clifford Brooks, Roger Ames ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
It all began about 1980, when Marthalie Furber, newly-appointed education director of OPERA America, conducted an environmental scan to discern what was going on in opera education throughout the country. Many of us already involved in company education departments knew of "create an opera" projects in different opera companies. Exciting things were happening in such locales as the Berkshires, San Diego, Tulsa and Tucson. Carroll Reinhart, a pioneer in the field of music education, had observed the work of a colleague in San Diego and began building from a number of creative processes to develop a methodology for children to create their own pieces of musical theater. He shared this with several opera professionals, including Henry Holt. Not long afterward, he was contacted by Marthalie Furber. The discussions began in earnest.
Teachers Test the New M!W!O!
Sarah Bryan Miller ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
Teach children to write operas? The idea may seem daunting, but the with help of OPERA America’s Music! Words! Opera! (M!W!O!) curriculum, teachers across the country have been doing just that for the last 20 years. M!W!O!’s intense five-day summer course provides teachers with the tools they need to build those operas.
Why Opera Camps?
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
From opera creation to after-school programs, opera company education departments offer a wide array of initiatives. According to the most recent Opera Education Survey Report, the number of companies offering opera camps has been steadily increasing over the past few years. Between 2003-2004 and 2007-2008, a surveyed constant sample group of companies that offered opera camps rose from 44% to 59%.

Opera camp activities have been part of Austin Lyric Opera's programming for the past eight years. The camps, hosted through ALO's Armstrong Community Music School, provide opportunities for roughly 100 students each year, ages five through 22. ALO offers a half-day summer camp for five- to seven-year-olds, camps for eight- to 12-year-olds and a week-long workshop for ages 14 to 22.
Puccini Plus Participation Equals Passion
Paula Winans, Director of Education, Lyric Opera of Kansas City ,
Original Content9/29/2009
Seventeen years ago, Lyric Opera of Kansas City offered its first summer opera camp. The two-week camp is open to youth ages 10 through 18, but if a parent calls and discusses a child's musical interests and ability to focus, children as young as five years old can attend and participate.

On the first day of camp, the young people fill out a survey to show what they know about opera. Most first-time campers have neither seen nor sung in an opera and cannot answer the questions. We tell them that they do not need to worry if they can't answer the questions because, by the end of our first day, they will be able to show a lot more knowledge. We also have the campers take a "drop the needle" listening test. We play three excerpts of well-known arias and ask them to name the work, the composer, the language being sung, the character's name and what the character is singing about. Most of first-timers leave their paper totally blank. However, approximately 50 percent of the campers are returning from previous summers; they pass the test with flying colors, even though the test is different each year.
For the Love of the Game: Considering a Career in Opera Administration
José Rincón, Artistic Services Coordinator, OPERA America ,
Original Content9/30/2009
Most opera administrators working today probably did not enter college with the goal of working for a nonprofit arts organization someday. I know this was the case for me when I began studying voice as an undergraduate. In fact, I was unaware of arts administration as a field until, as a college senior, I was offered a chance to design some marketing materials for a production of Orpheus in the Underworld. By that point, I knew I lacked the same hunger for a performing career as some of my music school colleagues, but I'd retained my passion for opera as an art form and wanted to devote my energy to instilling the same passion in others.
Check-Up: Health-Care Reform Proposals and the Opera Field
Staff Amy Fitterer, Patricia Read, Derek Davis, David Bennett
Original Content10/13/2009
OPERA America Webinar Series
Virtual Meeting Attendance: Not Present, But Still Here
BoardSource ,
Original Content10/13/2009

In an ideal board meeting, all members are present and engaged in a structured and vigorous debate of the issues on the agenda. The chair leads the discussion, fine-tuned to the overall mood of the board, and ensures everyone's participation. During planned breaks, chatter fills the boardroom, and when the meeting is over, some members hurry out with their carry-ons in tow while others linger to talk to the chief executive and their board colleagues.

In reality, few board meetings are that perfect. For example, at times, even the most committed members are not able to attend every meeting. This is unfortunate because not only do they miss the meeting but the rest of the board misses their contribution.
Recent Trends in Program Coverage, Artistic Expenses and Individual Giving
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content10/29/2009
Over the past 10 years, professional opera company budgets in the U.S. grew annually, on average, at a rate that was about two to two-and-a-half times the U.S. consumer price index (CPI). During consultations with board members and general directors, OPERA America President and CEO Marc A. Scorca referred to this percentage as the Opera Price Index (OPI). Core artistic expenses (the sum of artistic personnel, technical/production personnel and production costs) are an important element of this "opera-flation."
The Role of the Voice Teacher in the Young Artist Program
Dr. Rebecca L. Folsom ,
Original Content11/3/2009
For singers pursuing operatic careers, young artist programs are essential to career development. The programs vary in level and length, and play a vital role in fostering a singer's talent and potential. Professional voice teachers are an integral part of the faculty/staff/training team in the young artist programs.

The voice teacher commonly addresses such issues as breath control, registration, laryngeal function, resonance adjustment and acoustical exactness, articulation of vowels, all of which promote free, efficient vocal production. Professionals also ensure that singers have proper physiological coordination within the mechanisms that produce vocal sound. As a budding mezzo-soprano commented: “What makes voice teachers a distinct and essential part of a young artist program is their vested interest in our longevity as singers, and they generally have skills to teach ways in which we can extend our vocal life by means of warm-ups and technical adjustments." The preferred role of a voice teacher is not to change an established singer's technique, particularly in a short period of time. According to one young tenor, “the primary role of a young artist program voice teacher is to combine the skills of critical listening, technical knowledge of the voice and instructive abilities to help maintain a healthy singing voice." To achieve healthy singing, teachers must decide whether to delve into technical considerations or work in a flexible manner with the singer's established method of tonal production.
Board Members and Personal Contributions
BoardSource ,
Original Content11/5/2009
Many boards spend considerable time defining the board's role in securing adequate resources for the organization. Personal financial contribution should be an essential part of that discussion. Each board should determine its own personal giving policy. For fundraising boards, the target should be to reach 100 percent board member participation.

Why should board members give?
Board members of most charitable organizations are expected to participate in fundraising. The board is responsible for providing a sound financial basis for the organization and by personally contributing, a board member recognizes this responsibility and demonstrates a commitment. A fundraising appeal is particularly convincing if a board member uses him or herself as an exemplary donor. Many foundations only contribute to organizations where every board member is a contributor. And surveys show that nearly 90 percent of American households contribute to charities. Each board member should designate his or her own organization as one of the main recipients of his or her generosity.
Brundibar at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: Creativity and Efficiency in Tandem
Wendall K. Harrington ,
Original Content12/3/2009
About three years ago, Steve Ryan, director of production for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis called me and asked if I would be interested in working on a new production of Brundibar for their education department. The previous production had a lot of scenery he said, and he was looking to make something that would be more portable.

I was immediately interested. For decades I have been trying to encourage the use of projections for educational theatrical use: Once created, productions can be easily remounted and require virtually no storage. When I looked at a tape of the previous production I understood the real issue with Brundibar for education was twofold. On one hand, opera companies are looking to introduce young people to the beauty of opera with the hope of instilling at least curiosity about the art form, and at the same time they are using Brundibar to teach the history of the Holocaust. Brundibar is a musical fable most famous for being played and sung by the Jewish children interned in the Terezin concentration camp. The subject matter — two children in need of money to buy milk for their sick mother, who triumph over the organ grinder Brundibar — does not neatly illuminate the struggle in the camps, but the idea of any kind of triumph must have been mighty appealing for the inmates, who also were allowed to remove their yellow stars in performance.
Opera and the Holidays
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Original Content12/3/2009
In the midst of the holiday frenzy, the music that accompanies the festive season provides a happy and sometimes nostalgic respite. The holidays will come and go in the next three weeks, but good art will outlast the more prosaic parts of the season. As opera companies close out 2009 with productions and community events geared to the festive season, families and audiences have ample opportunity to add opera to their celebrations.
Honoring African-Americans through Opera, School and the Community
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Original Content1/1/2010
The Civil Rights Movement, as we know it today, can be traced back to July 26, 1948, with the signing of Executive Order 9981 by President Harry S. Truman, which desegregated the American armed forces. In the 1950s and 60s, key events and individuals including Brown v. Board of Education, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. advanced the movement. In 2010, opera companies throughout the U.S. will continue to celebrate African-American history, honor the activists involved in the Civil Rights Movement and commemorate the reform movement itself with new commissions and special events.

Kentucky Opera studio artists will work with the Louisville Orchestra on a celebratory concert for Dr. King on January 15, the day on which he would have turned 81. Additionally, the company commissioned a new work by local composer Harry Pickens, celebrating President Barack Obama, called Chorus of Hope. The work will premiere at a free event on January 17 at St. Stephen Church, the largest primarily African-American church in Louisville. These events not only serve cultural needs, but they also provided Kentucky Opera with an opportunity to collaborate with orchestra, theater, drum corps and other community partners. "In essence," says Director of Education Deanna R. Hoying, "the community will have a new structure to celebrate Dr. King produced by Kentucky Opera, with performances ranging from opera to drums, to children and adult choirs, dancers and musicians. It meets a lot of needs in the community, as well as for us to become more a part of the fabric of Louisville."
Good Habits Underpin Great Fundraising Boards
Jerold Panas ,
Original Content1/6/2010
In this interview, Jerold Panas discusses the traits of successful fundraising boards.

What led you to the topic of fundraising habits?

I work with organizations all over the country, of all sizes, of all types. From YMCAs to colleges to hospitals — and many in between. The budgets range from $1 million a year to $2.6 billion.

And what I've noticed is a common thread woven through each. When an organization is vital, providing outstanding service, and balancing its budget — I find a board that practices very specific habits. Particularly fundraising habits.

How many boards would you say you've worked with?

Keep in mind, I've been at this a long time! I suppose in my 40 years of consulting, I've actively worked with somewhere between 300 to 400 boards.

And roughly how many have had a majority of the habits you write about?

Most boards practice a good number of them. Only a few can claim them all. One thing if for sure — it's easy to spot boards that don't have these habits. They stumble along.
Made Possible, in Part, by the National Endowment for the Arts
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Original Content1/29/2010
As the largest annual funder of the arts, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), has a long history with opera. Since its inception in 1965, the NEA has made more than 4,500 grants to opera companies, artists and organizations, totaling nearly $167 million. Many of these grants have assisted the creation or implementation of education, community and outreach programs. Throughout the past year, the NEA has made grant investments totaling nearly $2.1 million in support of opera projects, through two of the NEA's grant categories: Access to Artistic Excellence (AAE) and Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth (LITA).

Of the 62 AAE grants awarded in FY2010, more than half supported educational opportunities such as a lectures, in-school presentations, young artist programs or community events. For instance, Des Moines Metro Opera's educational touring troupe, Opera Iowa, will travel to over 70 schools presenting age-appropriate workshops and one-act operas. The Atlanta Opera will develop a program tailored for middle and high school students at area schools, as well as an educational touring production based on Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. A March spring break opera camp will be offered by Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
Art and Fame: A Perspective of an Artist as a Young Man
Robert Hansen, executive director, National Opera Association ,
Original Content2/4/2010
When I was something less than two years old, certainly too young to have any real memory of it, I was photographed sitting in the middle of the dining room table wearing nothing but an over-sized and very glamorous hat. I don’t think the photo was posed: I’m sure I donned that hat myself, and from the expression on my face, I’m equally sure I expected to be noticed.

That must have been the earliest expression of my fantasy of fame and celebrity. I began my stage career at the age of five as the little prince in The King and I who crawls between the king’s legs. I relished that moment: the most special of all those child actors who comprised the royal family. Without belaboring the point, I continued performing all through my school years. I was sought after. I sang and performed everywhere and all the time, turning up as a regular in community and school projects, and even one professional program. One kind reviewer called me “everybody’s tenor” and a local philanthropist and arts supporter praised my “multi-faceted talents.” These are words of praise and encouragement that resonate in the formative years. I took the affirmation as a promise of future success. I watched the Academy Awards and Tony shows religiously, fantasizing about the day I would cross the stage to claim my own recognition.
Planned Giving Strategies
Larry Bomback, Thomas Bonhag, Robert Heuer , Larry Bomback, Thomas Bonhag, Robert Heuer
Original Content2/16/2010
A common concern among donors is how assets will be distributed when they can no longer oversee the process. As a donor, how can you best invest money to reap the benefits during your life, but still ensure a lasting and positive impact? As a development director, how do you broach this delicate subject well-informed and effectively? This session, featuring Thomas Bonhag, a Certified Financial Planner from National Madison Group and a member of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, will help guide you through the complex financial instruments available, and look at investing via life insurance policies. Robert Heuer, general director of Florida Grand Opera, will also participate.
Nonprofits and Copyrights: What You Need to Know
Kate Spelman, attorney, Cobalt LLP ,
Original Content2/23/2010
There are two things to worry about with copyrights: protecting original material that your organization has created, and making sure that your organization isn't improperly using material that someone else owns. Blue Avocado asked copyright attorney Kate Spelman to help with these issues, and she generously gave all her expertise and time.

Kate Spelman is an attorney at Cobalt LLP in Berkeley, CA, with a national and international practice in copyright law. She has worked for Fortune 500 companies, as well as many nonprofits. She is a board member of the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation.
Ten Ways to Get Your Students to Use the OPERA America Web Site and Love it
Laura Lee Everett, University of Maryland Opera Studio ,
Original Content3/3/2010
In working with both the Technical/Production and Singer Training Forums, I was lucky enough to be taken on a “virtual tour” of the newly updated OPERA America Web site. Twice. The second time around, I was able to take note of the moments where my colleagues’ attention seemed to wander and asked, “What do I need to point up to get everyone engaged when I take this information back to school?” Here are 10 easy ways to get your students, staff and faculty to utilize the great resources on the OPERA America Web site.
Taxing Foreign Artists
Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America , Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America
Original Content3/17/2010
Visiting artists bring a sometimes unique perspective to your stage, and equally unique issues to your tax returns. Pretty much anyone who performs in the US gets taxed, but the simplicity ends there. What compensation is subject to withholding? Can artists without a Social Security Number be paid? Answers to those questions, and any others you may have particular to your situation, in this discussion with FTM Arts Law attorney and tax-withholding expert Robyn Guilliams, co-author of Artists From Abroad.
Fundraising for Independent Artists
Beryl B. Byles, executive coach, Dianne Debicella, program director, fiscal sponsorship, Fractured Atlas; Eve Gigliotti, mezzo-soprano; Anne Ricci, general managing diva, Opera on Tap
Making Connections3/24/2010
Many, if not most, independent artists will have to raise funds during their careers - to produce a piece, attend a training program or simply to continue study. Panelists at this session will discuss their experiences, tips and strategies for cultivating donor relationships and raising funds.
Good Reads: A Book List for Singers
Megan Young, Artistic Services Director, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/5/2010
At OPERA America, we love books. In our office, we have a huge library full of them with titles ranging from the studious (e.g. Schoenberg's Fundamentals of Musical Composition) to the salacious (The Private Lives of the Three Tenors, anyone?). Yes, we know we can download books to our e-readers, subscribe to just about everything via RSS and absorb today's news from our smart phones, but to many of us there's nothing like pulling a well-worn paperback out for a good read. Call us old-fashioned.

In light of our collective bibliophilia, OPERA America staff members, along with constituents of the Singer Training Forum steering committee, put together a suggested reading list for singers. Some choices are highly-specialized books for singers; others are less obviously connected to the art of singing, but provide rich fodder for thought. The books have been separated into categories for easy navigation, but note that some selections may be appropriate to more than one category.

The reading list is not a definitive list, but rather a starting point. As always, we encourage you to seek the advice of your personal network (teachers, coaches, professional contacts) in considering other important resources and areas of study. Happy reading!

Thank you to Ann Baltz of OperaWorks, Laura Brooks Rice of Westminster Choir College/CoOPERAtive Program and Kelley Rourke for contributing their favorite books to this list.
Teen Audiences and Education Programs
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/6/2010
The most recent Opera Education Survey Report (2008) reported that opera companies are devoting less time and resources to teen audiences. This survey found that grades 6-8 represented 5% of education audiences, while grades 9-12 comprised 8%. In 2006, the survey found the same audiences were 12% and 9%, respectively. There is consensus in the field that it is a challenge to reach teen audiences for many reasons. "In general," says Fort Worth Opera Education Director Clyde Berry, "teens are the trickiest audience because you have to justify why anything you want them to know is important. If you can't make it relevant to them with real-world connections, then they're not going to 'buy' it."
Tenets to Raise Money By
Certain factors are irrefutable, says philanthropy's grandmaster

Jerold Panas ,
Original Content4/8/2010
For my book, Mega Gifts: Who Gives Them, Who Gets Them, I spoke with more than 50 men and women who had made gifts of $1 million or more. I also collected data from more than a thousand fundraising professionals.

As for me, I bring over 40 years to this magnificent business of helping others undertake consequential acts of kindness and generosity.

What I’ve discovered is that there are clearly factors and forces that motivate large gifts. The proof is irrefutable. There is more commonality in the factors than there are differences. And as extraordinarily unique as people are, the drive and consideration that propels them to a major gift is very much the same.

During the preparation of Mega Gifts I combined all I’d learned from my donors and all I could read on the subject. I mixed this generously and openly with my own feelings and attitudes.

What have evolved are 62 factors that I’m convinced guide, shape and determine the success of securing the mega gifts. Here I’ll share a random seven with you.
What Makes a Great Board?
Expert shares his insights

Andy Robinson ,
Original Content4/8/2010
Andy Robinson is the author of Great Boards for Small Groups and its companion book, Big Gifts for Small Groups. We recently sat down with Robinson to discuss various aspects of nonprofit boards.

What makes a great board, in your opinion?

Robinson: Just what you’d expect; a list of qualifications that’s easy to understand but can be hard to find. Passion for the mission, clear expectations and clearly defined roles, a sense of camaraderie and enough time to do the job right. It also helps to have a bit of flexibility, humor and humility.

So why aren’t there more great boards?

Robinson: The word “great” implies ambition, so the goal is inherently difficult. Faced with the challenge if building a strong board, most organizations move in the wrong directions: they fear that the truth will scare away prospective candidates, so they “low-ball” their expectations. Unfortunately, if people can’t meet your board requirements, you’d rather find out before you invite them — and not after they’ve joined the board.
Visa Processing for Foreign Guest Artists
Amy Fitterer, OPERA America, Jonathan Ginsburg and Andi Floyd, FTM Arts Law
Original Content4/21/2010
The opera industry has recently seen delays and problems in visa processing by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), underscoring the risk that foreign guest artists will be unable to enter the country in time for their rehearsals and performances. Join us to hear from attorney Jonathan Ginsburg as he shares timely advice and best practices for assembling petitions that will increase your chances of petition approval. Ginsburg is considered one of the top immigration attorneys in the U.S. for foreign guest artists. He co-authored the Artist From Abroad Web site, and has conducted numerous presentations and training sessions across the country on visa processing.
Building and Managing Your Network
Charles Jarden, executive director, American Opera Projects; Laura Brooks Rice, Westminster Choir College and CoOPERAtive Program; Leah Wool, mezzo-soprano ,
Making Connections5/26/2010
To be successful, opera artists must accumulate a staggering amount of knowledge and skills. Those who attempt to meet so many demands alone, particularly given the transient lifestyle of an opera career, will quickly find themselves overwhelmed. This session will cover the need for advisors, identifying appropriate team players, communicating your goals to your supporters and managing this dynamic group through your own personal and professional growth.
What is the Best Way for Teachers to be Evaluated?
By Larry Ferlazzo, Educator, Luther Burbank High School (CA) ,
Original Content9/1/2010
What is the best way for teachers to be evaluated? A loaded question, indeed. Evaluating someone's performance is always tricky. It has become even more so in education where public discussions of new forms of teacher evaluations are often introduced in the context of developing a tool to fire educators.

Reading the Blueprint: Educators Debate Proposed Reforms
By Laura Varlas, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ,
Original Content10/1/2010
Nine years after the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) garnered bipartisan support in Congress, the legislation officially known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is up for reauthorization. For many educators frustrated with how NCLB reshaped the classroom experience, this has been a long wait.

In March, with the release of the Obama administration's road map for revamping ESEA, A Blueprint for Reform: The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act (the blueprint), the U.S. Department of Education outlined its proposal for overhauling the law.
Professional Development: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
By José Rincón, Artistic Services Manager ,
Original Content12/1/2010
The holidays are upon us and if you are wondering what to get the singer, composer, librettist, director or designer on your gift list, put down the Hickory Farms catalog and consider giving a gift that is not only thoughtful but useful, too. If you are an artist yourself, why not spend some of the cash you get from grandma on a membership or subscription to a service organization that will help you advance your career? Here are several member- or subscription-based organizations that offer an array of programs and resources for creative artists:
Innovative Arts Integration
Staff ,
Original Content12/1/2010
Creativity, innovation and imagination are increasingly viewed as integral to shaping the future of both the emerging workforce and the concept of a world citizen.

Are We Asking the Right Questions?
by Laura Day Giarolo, Manager of Education & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content1/1/2011
Collecting and carefully mining data to make informed decisions can lead to increased quality, efficiency and effectiveness in any field. In order for that to be the case, an organization must first establish common goals, a common vocabulary and agree on both definitions and metrics of success. Taking this approach requires the re-evaluation and re-examination of tacit assumptions, especially in the field of arts education.

Keys to a Successful Singer/Conductor Relationship
Neal Goren, Gotham Chamber Opera; Erie Mills, soprano; Steven Osgood, conductor ,
Making Connections1/26/2011
An established conductor can be a major ally in the advancement of a singer’s career, but the success of this relationship relies on trust, respect and a lot of preparation. Learn how to make the singer/conductor relationship a mutually beneficial one from this session’s panel of distinguished artists.
Ten Ways to Use the OPERA America Website Today
Jose Rincon, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
Original Content2/1/2011
OPERA America members have a wide range of services at their fingertips via the OPERA America website. Our web-based resources are designed to help both artists and administrators learn about opera as an art form and as an industry.
Ask not what arts education can do for you. Ask what you can do for arts education.
by Laura Day Giarolo, Manager of Education & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content2/1/2011
This past month saw the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s historic inaugural address, and the beginning of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the performing arts center that bears his name: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Take Action to Support Arts Education
By Laura Day Giarolo and Brandon Gryde ,
Original Content3/1/2011
The continuing resolution passed by the House last Tuesday avoids a government shutdown and gives lawmakers two weeks to come to terms on a budget agreement for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which lasts through September 30. This resolution cuts $4 billion in domestic spending, including the U.S. Department of Education-funded Arts in Education program (currently funded at $40 million), which supports newly emerging education models in high-poverty schools that improve arts learning. The loss of this program could result in the elimination of funding for more than 200 multi-year projects.
The Art of Entrepreneurship and Education
by Laura Day Giarolo, Manager of Education & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/4/2011
Next month, leaders from across the opera industry will gather for the annual opera conference in Boston — Opera Entrepreneurship: Building on Tradition — which will feature many opportunities to reexamine the way in which we approach our work.

The word entrepreneur is nothing to shy away from: though it's often included alongside business jargon like ROI and time-value of money, it can just as easily be aligned with arts education buzzwords like creativity and innovation. Successful entrepreneurs are able to identify a wish, want or desire held by a certain population and find a unique and creative way to make that wish come true.
Interview: George Steel of New York City Opera
Marc A. Scorca, President & CEO, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/18/2011
OPERA America’s Marc A. Scorca interviewed George Steel, New York City Opera General Manager and Artistic Director on April 12, 2011 about recent press, the 2011-2012 season and union negotiations.
The Nuts, Bolts and Secrets of Covering
Katherine Drago, mezzo-soprano ,
Making Connections4/20/2011
Working for an opera company as a cover is a great way to begin building a reputation in the industry as a talented artist and dependable colleague. This interactive seminar will teach you the essential dos and don’ts of covering, as well as techniques for notating and reviewing blocking, how to conduct yourself during rehearsals and more.
Healthy and Creative Aging
Laura Day Giarolo, Manager of Education & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/28/2011
Baby boomers are hitting retirement and a great shift in the American population is underway. By 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau has projected that older adults (ages 65 and up) will number 88.5 million; nearly one in five Americans will be over age 65 by the year 2030. While this statistic may send some of our marketing colleagues into a quiet panic over the need to develop a new and younger audience, it opens up a whole new area of arts education: creative aging and true lifelong learning.
Storytelling and Advocacy
Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs, Dance/USA and OPERA America ,
Original Content6/7/2011
"What was your very first arts experience?"

This was the first question I received when I interviewed for the position of government affairs director. It's a softball question that allowed me to easily shift into storytelling mode. Yet it's also an impactful question because my first arts experience was also the first step that led to a life of arts participation as an audience member, a performer, an arts education director, as well as my current position with Dance/USA and OPERA America. My exposure to arts as a child increased my desire to want to learn more.
Collegiate Collaboration
Brooke Feldman, Artistic Services Intern, OPERA America ,
Original Content7/11/2011
As a stage management student at Syracuse University, one of the first things I learned was that performing arts production is a collaborative process. Every class that I took, from basic rehearsal techniques to budgeting, steered back to the concept of collaboration. I was fortunate enough to stage manage productions across a spectrum of genres during my time at school, but it was through my work with Syracuse’s opera workshop that I learned the true meaning of collaboration.
Tips for Assembling Your Opera Fund Application
Lyndsay Werking, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
Original Content8/4/2011
As the summer comes to an end, we at OPERA America are excited to be launching the next round of grant opportunities through The Opera Fund. This year, awards will be given in the Audience Development category for projects that focus on community engagement activities undertaken in conjunction with the creation and/or production of a new or existing American work. The deadline to submit a letter of intent is August 26. The competition for limited funds is highly competitive. In looking through past grant proposals, we have created some general guidelines to help you as you prepare your application.
DIY Professional Development
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content8/4/2011

Conferences and informal conversations alike provide opportunities for professionals to learn from and share with one another, building on the strength of their shared experiences. OPERA America provides several opportunities for mentors, mentees and peer groups to reconnect through in-person Forums, online chats and listserv conversations, and other arts organizations and arts service organizations offer similar services. Weekly or monthly e-newsletters (like OperaLink) have been known to spark conversations around the water cooler, but many of the more recent transformations in do-it-yourself professional development (DIYPD) have come through the blogosphere and through social and professional networking sites.

How Can I Keep from Singing?
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning & Community Engagement ,
Original Content9/12/2011
Despite my ruddy Irish-American complexion and Minnesotan upbringing, standing in front of Guernica at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid and seeing that great work in person made me a Spaniard and a Basque. I had read the history and knew of the devastation during the Spanish Civil War, but it wasn't until I was face to face with Picasso's masterpiece and breathed in deeply that I was forced to grapple with the gruesome reality of a war that happened decades before I was born.

Creative expression of one's own story can provide victims of great tragedies an outlet for dealing with their grief and anguish. The resulting art — be it a painting, a poem, a sculpture, a song — provides release for its creator, and enables observers, audience members and participants in a performance the opportunity to relate to the event and its survivors, no matter how far removed in time or space. These works provide a level of detail and uncomfortable intimacy that a more objectively written historical record simply can't capture or convey. It is the responsibility of artists and educators alike to ensure all people have the opportunity to take ownership of their history through art.
Last Chance Summer Reading!: Arts Education Reading and Resources
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning and Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content9/12/2011
Though summer weather is still going strong, the start of another school year is right around the corner! As you begin planning for the fall, be sure to check out these great resources for arts education:

Not in Kansas Anymore
Joyce DiDonato sounds off on the recent elimination of funding for the arts by her home state of Kansas.

Art Talk
The National Endowment for the Arts’ Art Works Blog features Art Talk interviews with prominent artists. See what Sandra Radvanovsky has to say about arts education, gain new insights from Marna Stalcup of the Right Brain Initiative and hear how early experiences with arts education made a lasting impact on NEA staff.
Singers: How to Research Producing Opera Companies
Megan Young ,
Original Content10/11/2011
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of opera producers in North America. So, how do you know which are appropriate for you at your current level of career achievement? Do you send out 100 headshots and resumes and hope for the best? We think not! Do your research ahead of time to find the opportunities that are appropriate for you. You'll cut down on the volume of materials you send out and you'll be less likely to be put on the "do not hear" list. To start your research, use OPERA America’s Career Guide for Opera. Read on for a comprehensive list of qualities to examine before you choose to audition…
Engaging a Diverse Community
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning & Community Engagement, and Alexa B. Antopol, Research & Reference Librarian ,
Original Content10/17/2011
The title of a pre-conference seminar from Opera Conference 2011 was especially relevant last week as three different reports and announcements stimulated much thinking about how opera companies — and all performing arts organizations — can do a better job of engaging a diverse community.

National Public Radio's Deceptive Cadence blog posted about two notable mentions of opera in the New York Times: an incidental (and unflattering) reference in a restaurant review and a front page article about the success of the Metropolitan Opera's fundraising efforts last year. In "Is Opera Stuff (Only) Rich People Like?", Anastasia Tsioulcas used the language of the Occupy Wall Street protests to ask readers about opera's status as an elitist art form. Twenty-four hours later, Tsioulcas knew the answer to her question was a resounding NO: Opera is for the 99%.
Public Value and the Bottom Line
Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs, Dance/USA and OPERA America ,
Original Content11/29/2011
We like to compartmentalize our lives. It makes things easier. We have different groups of friends; work life, social life and family life rarely converge. In the realm of arts advocacy, we separate issues of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and charitable deductions, among other issues.

However, support for the arts through NEA appropriations and through private contributions face challenging times. The arguments against supporting funding for the arts and against the charitable deduction (the incentive that allows those who itemize to deduct a portion of their contributions from taxes owed) are related: The benefits of both the government spending and the government subsidy are reaped by only the few, wealthy individuals who already have access to the arts.
Online Education Resources
Staff ,
Original Content11/29/2011
Opera educators are right to focus on the work being performed on the main stage or in touring productions, but there are many online resources related to opera that can be used to our advantage as well. Though not opera-specific, two new resources from Ovation and Broadway Online Learning Center may be of particular interest in our field. Each of these takes a serious look at different aspects of the creation of a new work of opera or music-theater, and is worth exploring.
Stress Management for Opera Artists
Robin Rigby, stress management consultant ,
Making Connections12/15/2011
Stress is often unavoidable, especially in the competitive and grueling world of opera. Fortunately, there are proven methods of reducing and managing stress and the factors that cause it. At this session you will learn how to effectively deal with stress so that you can stay healthy, productive and achieve your goals as an artist.
How to Talk About Finances So Non-Financial Folks Will Listen
Bridgestar Staff ,
Original Content12/22/2011
Nonprofit staff members almost universally understand the importance of achieving the mission of the organization and are trained in delivering direct services such as feeding the hungry, educating low-income children, or advocating for a more sustainable environment. However, many of these individuals, while highly skilled in a particular program area, do not have a lot of training and experience in working with financial data. Understandably, when prioritizing their work, nonprofit line managers will often choose to spend their time feeding the hungry over examining numbers on a departmental budget spreadsheet.
Opera Advocacy: Not Just About Appropriation
Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs, Dance/USA and OPERA America ,
Original Content1/24/2012
By now, most in the performing arts community have learned that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) received yet another cut for FY12. With the final funding amount at $145.979 million, the NEA has almost $9 million less this year on top of the $12 million cut in FY11.

These cuts were already reflected in the first round of Art Works grant allocations (in both the number and size of grants) and also in the change in FY13 guidelines with the elimination of consortium grants.

While funding for the NEA has been a flagship issue for the arts community and advocates, it’s important to know that this is not the only issue that the performing arts face in 2012. OPERA America represents the opera community in a wide array of issues — some that may be very familiar, and others that may be completely new.
The Blind Leap of Leadership
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning and Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content1/24/2012
"I need you to jump off a cliff."
— President Josiah Bartlett, "The West Wing," Season 6, episode 3 ("Third Day Story")

It's not exactly the warmest, most enthusiastic job offer ever; yet, in many ways, assuming a position of leadership requires a leap of faith. Whether an individual is a new CEO or it is his or her first time supervising staff, being an effective leader requires a delicate blend of personal know-how and interpersonal skills.
Evaluation and Assessment: Beyond Anecdotal Evidence
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content3/5/2012
Once a month, OPERA America staff members gather to discuss reports and publications that we’ve recently read. At our most recent Journal Club, one colleague reported on The Arts and Human Development: Framing a National Research Agenda for the Arts, Lifelong Learning, and Individual Well-Being, released fall 2011 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While the report’s purpose was to outline areas of arts participation ripe for future research, one of the studies cited, The Creativity and Aging Study: The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults, found that older adults who participated in arts activities "reported higher overall physical health, fewer doctor visits, less medication use, fewer instances of falls and fewer health problems when compared to the comparison group. The intervention group also evidenced better morale and less loneliness than the comparison group. Similarly, [those participating in arts activities]… reported a trend toward increased activity." To which OPERA America staff members said, "Well, duh!"
Totally Non-Non-Non-Partisan Dude!
Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/4/2012
Believe me — I completely understand. I, too, have friends on Facebook who continue to post political memes. These posts beget even more ridiculous comments from their friends, ones that make online super contributors sound intelligent. The comments can rile you so much that you believe yourself to be the only person capable of setting these individuals straight.

But before you add your obviously rational voice to the discussion and inform your friends-of-friends of their comment's inaccuracies, PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOU'RE NOT POSTING TO YOUR OPERA COMPANY'S FACEBOOK ACCOUNT.

During an election year, emotions run high; candidates from both parties, eager to increase their media exposure, tend to make extreme statements. This makes it even easier to get caught up on the fracas.
Measuring Brand Personality: Why Customer Service, Social Marketing and Brandmaking are Becoming the Same Thing
Patricia Martin, Culture Scout Blog ,
Original Content4/17/2012
Everything communicates. Everything. What our brands do, say, show, process or sell. My colleague, Nancy Goldstein, is a brand strategist who is especially passionate about this. And she's right.

Lately, I've been studying the best behaviors of social brands. That's why this infographic caught my eye. It reveals interesting insights into customer service and social commerce.
An Excellence Manifesto for the Digital Age
Douglas McLennan, ArtsJournal ,
Original Content6/22/2012
  1. Excellence is Meaningless

Excellence doesn’t stand out when everything is excellent. In a world where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average,” being good looking, strong and above average won’t get you noticed. We perceive excellence when it stands out from the things around it. When everything is excellent then excellence is average. It’s in our nature to want more, to want different. Most declarations of excellence aren’t about excellence at all; they’re about positioning. In the digital age, when ideas and bits and bytes are cheap and endlessly reproducible, excellence is a mutable concept.
"Teacherese" for Arts Programming
Clyde Berry, Director of Education, Fort Worth Opera ,
As the new school year gets underway, it is important to remember the importance of the relationship with classroom teachers. Below, Clyde Berry, a classroom teacher for more than 10 years, offers "teacherse" for those working with teachers.

Every classroom teacher, especially with the current implementation of No Child Left Behind, has a very challenging task in creating smart lessons that will lead directly to high test scores. No other time is given to extracurricular or enrichment lessons, as schools/teachers with low test scores face serious disciplinary actions from their own school systems. While this is a serious impediment to the education paradigm, the bottom line of funding high-testing schools has become all important. Administrators will not allow anything to interfere or pull from test prep time and therefore risking funding.

Fall 2014 Magazine Issue
  • Are Women Different?
  • Preparing for Klinghoffer
  • Emerging Artists: Act One

Contact Us
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
P 212-796-8620 • F 212-796-8621
From Airport:
The easiest way to reach the OPERA America offices is to get a cab at the airport. Cost is $40-45
(not including tip).
  • JFK - Take the AirTrain ($5 - approx. 15 minutes) to the Jamaica Street Station and transfer to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Take the LIRR to Penn Station ($12 - approx. 35 minutes). See Penn Station directions below.
  • LaGuardia - Take the M60 Bus to the Hoyt Ave/31st Street. Get on the or Train and take that to 42nd/Times Square Station. Follow the Times Square Station directions below.
  • Newark - Take the New Jersey Transit train to Penn Station ($15 - approx. 45 min). See the Penn Station Directions below.

From Penn Station/Madison Square Garden:
Leave the station through the 7th Avenue/33rd Street exit and walk south for four blocks. The building is on
the right hand side.

From Grand Central Station:
Take the Train to the 42nd/Times Square station and transfer to the Train.
Take the Train to the 28th Street stop and walk north on 7th Avenue.
The building is on the same block as the train stop.

From 42nd Street/Times Square:
Take the Train to the 28th Street stop and walk north on 7th Avenue.
The building is on the same block as the train stop.

For more detailed directions, most up-to-date pricing or to specify a different starting location, please visit the
MTA Web site.