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Press Released: 26 Apr 2011

Opera Conference 2011 - Opera Entrepreneurship: Building on Tradition

May 7–11, 2011: Boston, MA

Boston Lyric Opera & Opera Boston to Co-Host

OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, is pleased to announce details of Opera Conference 2011 — Opera Entrepreneurship: Building on Tradition, to be held in Boston, Massachusetts from May 7 to 11. Co-hosted by Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Boston, this largest gathering of opera professionals in North America will convene in Boston’s Theater District.

OPERA America’s annual conference presents a unique opportunity for the field’s leaders to examine the issues affecting the opera community today.

Anticipated highlights of Opera Conference 2011 will include the Opening Keynote Address by Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab; a tour of the Lab led by Tod Machover, composer of Death and the Powers, one of the year’s most noteworthy new operas; the Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase; the New Works Sampler in the American Repertory Theater Underground Cabaret, OBERON, hosted by American Repertory Theater Artistic Director Diane Paulus, one of the most important stage directors working in theater and opera today; the Co-Production Marketplace; and performances of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Boston Lyric Opera and Donizetti’s Maria Padilla by Opera Boston. (See attachment for more program details.)

General sessions, which engage the entire conference community in meaningful discussion, include “Think Like a Startup,” led by visionary author and international consultant Stan Davis; “The Audience Knows Best,” a session led by Dr. Thomas Wolf, in which conference attendees will hear from audience members themselves; and “Here to Stay: Capitalizing on Digital Transmission Technology,” a timely and important topic to the field.

A series of sessions will provide broad perspective and specific leadership training in the areas such as audience development, fundraising, governance, marketing and artistic planning. Capitalizing on the unique educational and cultural resources of Boston, Opera Conference 2011 will also feature a special Artist Weekend, with sessions on musical entrepreneurship and strategic planning for artists.

In addition to these sessions, members of Opera Europa and Opera.ca in Canada will join OPERA America members in an international forum on global challenges and opportunities in the world of opera.

“We are delighted to hold Opera Conference 2011 for the first time in Boston, a culturally rich city with an opera ecology that is flourishing on many levels,” stated OPERA America President and CEO Marc A. Scorca. “The opera field is transforming — companies are taking risks and retooling business practices, repertoire and venue selections, audience cultivation efforts and modes of presentation. Boston offers us the perfect setting to probe this entrepreneurial energy animating the field.”

“Boston Lyric Opera is incredibly honored to co-host Opera Conference 2011 with our colleagues at Opera Boston and the numerous other organizations here in Boston,” said Esther Nelson, Boston Lyric Opera’s General & Artistic Director. “We look forward to showcasing Boston’s thriving opera scene and reinforcing the vitality of the art form on a national stage.”

“We want to extend a warm welcome to conference attendees from around the world. There is nothing quite like Boston in the spring, and we look forward to seeing our colleagues at the opera,” said Opera Boston General Director Lesley Koenig.

In addition to Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Boston, 25 other Boston-area arts institutions will join the two companies in welcoming the national opera community to the conference. Boston’s vibrant arts community, world-renowned educational environment and rich history make it a fitting venue for this gathering.

For more information, including a detailed schedule of events, or to register, please visit the conference website at www.operaamerica.org/conference.

Opera Conference 2011 participating organizations include Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Boston, Boston Baroque, The Boston Conservatory, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston University College of Fine Arts, Guerilla Opera, New England Conservatory, American Repertory Theater, Arts Boston, Boston Metro Opera, Boston Opera Collaborative, Boston Singers Resource, Cape Cod Opera, Commonwealth Opera, Emerson College, Harvard University, Intermezzo Opera, Longwood Opera, Longy School of Music, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Metrowest Opera, North of Boston Arts Center, Opera del West, Opera Hub and Worcester Opera Works.

OPERA America gratefully acknowledges the support of the following Opera Conference 2011 sponsors: Amtrak; The Arts Insurance Program, LLC; Arts Consulting Group; ArtsVision; Boston Lyric Opera; CLASSICTIC.COM; Deloitte; Fisher Dachs Associates Theatre Planning & Design; Greater Boston Convention & Visitor Bureau; Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation; Opera Boston; Schuler Shook Theatre Planners and Wells Fargo.

Program Highlights

Keynote Address
Opening Keynote speaker Nicholas Negroponte is founder of the MIT Media Lab and general partner in a venture capital firm specializing in digital technologies for information and entertainment. He is also founder and chairman of the One Laptop per Child nonprofit association and author of the 1995 best-seller Being Digital, which has been translated into more than 40 languages. Negroponte will talk about the place of live performance in this highly digitized and disparate media landscape, and the cultural importance of shared artistic experiences.

Sessions and Seminars
General sessions bring together the entire conference constituency to explore topics that affect all aspects of the opera field. These sessions include “Think Like a Startup” with visionary author and commentator Stan Davis; “The Audience Knows Best: Answers to Engagement,” led by Dr. Thomas Wolf, principal at Wolf Brown; “Here to Stay: Capitalizing on Digital Transmission Technology,” featuring discussion by Minnesota Opera Vice President of Advancement Patrick Dewane, San Francisco Opera Director of Electronic Media Jessica Koplos, Austin Lyric Opera General Director Kevin Patterson, Emerging Pictures Managing Partner Barry Rebo and Asheville Lyric Opera General Director David Starkey; and the Cambridge Campus, an evening session of multimedia innovation at the MIT Media Lab, hosted by Death and the Powers composer Tod Machover.

Twenty open sessions will be offered during the course of Opera Conference 2011 that address the needs of staff and trustees in the areas of artistic and artist training, management, development, finance, marketing, public relations and technical/production. Session titles include “Bringing Your Endowment to Life;” “Teaching and Learning Through the Arts;” “Do You Hear What I Hear? Listening to Auditions;” “Online Advertising;” “New Roads to New Opera;” and “Avoiding the Ire of the IRS.”

Full- and half-day intensive seminars have been crafted to provide expert advice and tools to help organizations thrive in vital areas. Conference seminar topics include the “Electronic Media Forum: Copyright Basics,” Leadership Advance, “Planned Giving,” “New and Social Media 201: Beyond the Basics,” “Maximizing the Impact of Board Members as Company Ambassadors” and “Engaging a Diverse Community.”

Artist Weekend (May 7-8)
Opera Conference 2011 features a full weekend of learning opportunities for artists. New England Conservatory (NEC) will offer a career toolbox for emerging artists, providing expertise on some of the practical aspects of career-building. Led by Rachel Roberts, NEC’s head of entrepreneurial musicianship, artists will receive guidance on topics such as fiscal management, grant-writing, music technology and presentation skills. Singers can advance their skills by singing before a panel of professionals at Feedback Auditions. Composers, librettists, directors, designers and conductors can participate in a one-on-one discussion with a master artist from their respective field. Experts include: Luretta Bybee, Opera Studies at New England Conservatory; Nicholas Russell, Boston Lyric Opera; Dona D. Vaughn, Manhattan School of Music; Neal Goren, Gotham Chamber Opera; and Pamela Pantos, Opera North.

New Works Sampler
American Repertory Theater Artistic Director Diane Paulus hosts the New Works Sampler at the Oberon, A.R.T.'s theatrical club space. Paulus will use this unconventional setting to talk about the creative uses of so-called second stages, the advantages of creating a social community experience around opera and how unconventional settings can enrich the art form. Local Boston companies will execute the New Works Sampler, using this cabaret space as a theatrical backdrop.

Co-Production Marketplace
The second year of this event allows participants to present production designs and shop for potential co-producers. For companies in all stages of the production planning process, this is the place to launch lasting partnerships in the co-production realm.

Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase
The Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase brings promising talent to the attention of the field and to connect promising directors and designers with those who are in a position to advance their careers.

Opera Performances

Opera Conference 2011 attendees have the opportunity to attend productions by Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Boston and other Boston-area companies.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Boston Lyric Opera
In a mysterious, moonlit forest, a group of young lovers and a band of inept but endearing amateur actors encounter the shimmering world of Oberon, Tytania, Puck and their fairy attendants… and all are transformed. William Shakespeare’s magical play and Benjamin Britten’s luminous and witty score combine to question love, loyalty and reality in BLO’s new production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. David Angus conducts for the first time as BLO’s Music Director, joining designers John Conklin (sets), Kaye Voyce (costumes), Tony nominee Robert Wierzel (lights) and Emmy-nominated stage director Tazewell Thompson. Metropolitan Opera regular Susanna Phillips returns to BLO as Helena, joined by debuts John Gaston as Oberon, “From the Top” alumna and rising sensation Nadine Sierra as Tytania and English National Opera favorite Andrew Shore as Bottom.

Maria Padilla at Opera Boston
Described by Donizetti scholar William Ashbrook as "one of the most unfairly neglected of Donizetti's mature operas," Maria Padilla is a tour de force loosely based on the life of a woman who secretly married King Pedro the Cruel of Castile. In this new production, beloved soprano Barbara Quintiliani returns to a role she triumphed in at the 2009 Wexford Festival.

Other Boston-Area Organization Performances
Performances by other Boston-area organizations include Les Indes Galantes (Boston Baroque); 2011 Contemporary AmericanaFestival and The Big Bonanza (Boston Metro Opera); Loose, Wet, Perforated (Guerilla Opera); Sibling Rivalry: Baroque on the Beach (Musica Nuova) and The Cousin From Batavia (New England Light Opera).

Special Package Offer
OPERA America has also designed a special conference package for patrons, trustees and staff unable to attend the full conference. For just $95, individuals may attend the Opening Session and Keynote Address with Nicholas Negroponte, “Think Like a Startup” with Stan Davis, “The Audience Knows Best: Answers to Engagement,” “Here to Stay: Capitalizing on Digital Transmission Technology” and the Closing Session. As a special bonus, attendees will also receive access to OPERA America’s Online Learning course on Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For more information about this package and to register, visit www.operaamerica.org/specialoffer.

About Boston Lyric Opera
Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) is New England’s largest opera company. Founded in 1976, BLO is recognized for its artistically excellent productions of a diverse repertoire that entertain and inspire audiences and feature international, national and emerging operatic talent. BLO produces four mainstage productions each season: three at the Citi Performing Arts CenterSM Shubert Theatre in Boston and an Opera Annex production in an alternative space outside the traditional opera theatre. BLO’s programs are funded, in part, by grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Opera Boston
Opera Boston is a professional opera company dedicated to offering engaging musical productions of outstanding quality that connect audience and performer. Opera Boston presents innovative repertoire choices and important by rarely performed works. Opera Boston enriches the community through inventive outreach and education programs and by keeping opera affordable.


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

For press inquiries, contact Press@operaamerica.org or 212.796.8628.