Login failed. Please try again.

Press Released: 16 Jun 2014

Record-Setting Attendance for OPERA America’s Opera Conference 2014: Audiences Reimagined

June 20 – 23 in San Francisco, CA

Hosted by San Francisco Opera In Association with Opera Volunteers International

Four Sessions of Field-wide Impact to be Streamed Live at operaamerica.org/Live

OPERA America, the national nonprofit service organization for opera, is pleased to announce details of Opera Conference 2014: Audiences Reimagined, to be held in San Francisco, CA from June 20–23. Hosted by San Francisco Opera, in association with Opera Volunteers International, this largest annual gathering of opera professionals in North America will convene at venues in Union Square and the Civic Center. It marks the first time the Conference will be held in San Francisco in 25 years.

With registration still open, Opera Conference 2014 has already broken OPERA America’s all-time attendance record, previously held by the 2010 conference in Los Angeles.

OPERA America’s annual conference presents a unique opportunity for industry leaders to examine issues affecting the opera community from a variety of perspectives. With the theme Audiences Reimagined, conference attendees will explore how opera companies and artists can benefit from an increasingly broad, diverse and engaged audience through innovative technologies and exciting alternative performance offerings.

Opera Conference 2014 Highlights

Topics planned for opera conference attendees cover all facets of the art form and address the concerns of creators, administrators, trustees and supporters. Highlights of the many conference-wide sessions, performances and showcases include:

  • The Opening Session featuring discussion and music performed by legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and composer Jake Heggie;

  • General Session: Achieving Civic Impact, led by Alan Brown of WolfBrown, exploring what it means for opera companies to be embedded in their communities;

  • General Session: Re-Imagining Impact: The User Experience, during which leading innovators from beyond the opera field will inspire attendees with innovative examples of UX;

  • General Session: Leadership Begins at the Top, featuring a panel of board leaders who shed light on new works, new audiences and financial stability from the trustee perspective;

  • The New Works Forum, which nurtures more informed producers and creators of new operas and establishes stronger relationships among them;

  • The Singer Training Forum, for those who are dedicated to the identification and development of aspiring singers;

  • The New Works Sampler, with performances of works-in-progress and recent premieres, featuring the wide spectrum of musical styles employed by today’s emerging and established composers; and

  • San Francisco Opera performances of Show Boat, La Traviata and Madame Butterfly at the iconic War Memorial Opera House, as well as Opera Parallèle’s American premiere production of Anya17 at Marines’ Memorial Theatre.

Twenty-two Open Sessions provide conference attendees with valuable and practical information in specific administrative areas, including marketing, fundraising, governance, artistic planning, education and audience development. For the third straight year, Opera Conference 2014 is presented in association with Opera Volunteers International. Throughout the conference, a number of sessions address the important role that volunteers play in the success of the local opera company.

On Sunday, June 22, OPERA America presents a special Artist Intensive program for artists of all levels, taking place at the San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center’s Harold L. Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall. This half-day professional development workshop features feedback auditions, portfolio reviews, one-on-one mentoring sessions with industry experts, panel discussions and presentations.

“We are delighted to bring our annual conference to San Francisco after a 25 year absence,” stated OPERA America’s President/CEO Marc A. Scorca. “The legendary San Francisco Opera has been an exemplar in the development of new works, training of young artists and artistic standards of the highest quality,” he continued.

Live Streaming
The innovative thinking and valuable tools gained during Opera Conference 2014 are not limited to those able to travel to San Francisco. Select sessions will be streamed live on OPERA America’s website at operaamerica.org/Live and archived on the organization’s YouTube channel (YouTube.com/OPERAAmerica). Conference attendees and live stream viewers are encouraged to interact and share highlights on Twitter with the hashtag #OperaConf.

Sessions streaming live from San Francisco at operaamerica.org/Live are:

  • Opening Session | Friday, June 20, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. PDT (5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. EDT)
  • Achieving Civic Impact | Saturday, June 21, 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. PDT (12:00 – 1:30 p.m. EDT)
  • Re-Imagining Impact: The User Experience | Sunday, June 22, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. PDT (5:00 – 7:00 p.m. EDT)
  • Leadership Begins at the Top, Monday, June 23, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT (1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EDT)

See the Programming Details attachment for additional Opera Conference 2014 session and event information.

OPERA America gratefully acknowledges the support of the following Opera Conference 2014 sponsors:

  • American Express
  • Arts Consulting Group
  • The Arts Insurance Program, LLC
  • Auerbach Consultants
  • Bank of America
  • Comnet Marketing Group Inc.
  • The Dallas Opera
  • Deloitte
  • E. & J. Gallo Winery
  • Figaro Systems, Inc.
  • Fisher Dachs Associates
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • The James Irvine Foundation
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Meyer Sound
  • Music Publishers Association
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • Opera News
  • Quarterline Design Management
  • Rhinegold Publishing
  • Schuler Shook
  • SD&A Teleservices, Inc.
  • US Arno Group
  • Wells Fargo

Follow the conference conversation on social media with #OperaConf and @OPERAAmerica.

Watch live-streamed conference sessions at conference.operaamerica.org/Live.

Special Registration Offer for the Bay Area Arts Community at operaamerica.org/SpecialOffer.

Conference Program Details

General Sessions
General Sessions bring together the entire conference constituency to explore topics that affect all aspects of the opera field. These sessions include:

  • Opening Session: Opera Conference 2014 opens with discussion and music as legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and composer Jake Heggie explore the dynamics of successful relationships between artists, among artists and opera companies, and with the public. Attendees will be inspired by their artistry and learn from their success in developing a contemporary American opera repertoire that embraces opera’s cherished traditions and wins new audiences for the art form.


  • Achieving Civic Impact: Arts organizations of all kinds are increasingly expected not only to produce excellent art, but also to be partners in community development and responsive to community needs. This subtle but profound shift in what elected officials, institutional funders and individual donors need and want from opera companies brings a host of opportunities and challenges for everyone in the field. Alan Brown, principal, WolfBrown, will present emerging frameworks for artistic vibrancy and civic impact, and explore interconnections between the two. Alan will propose a coordinated research effort to gain a fuller understanding of the diverse ways in which Americans experience opera, and how opera companies impact their communities.


  • Re-Imagining Impact: The User Experience: The User Experience (UX) is a driving force across all sectors that examines how consumers interact with products and services. More than ever, consumer behavior and input inform companies in developing more meaningful, tailor-made experiences, made possible through radical advances in research, design and technology. Speakers include Twitter’s #EditorialGuerrilla James Buckhouse; Paul Chasan, urban designer/urban planner, San Francisco Planning Department; Erika Hall, co-founder, director of strategy, Mule Design; Laura Kusumoto, manager, innovation technology services, Kaiser Permanente; John McMahon, executive director for operations and digital products, Meyer Sound; and Ben Nelson, founder and CEO, Minerva Project. Following the talks, attendees will explore demonstrations and mini-workshops to learn how companies are leveraging this customer-focused strategy.


  • Leadership Begins at the Top: Strong opera companies have strong boards led by volunteers who devote time and resources to advance company missions. John Gunn, chairman of San Francisco Opera, will kick off a panel of board leaders including Carol Henry, chairman of Los Angeles Opera’s Executive Committee, and Kenneth G. Pigott, president of Lyric Opera of Chicago. They will discuss new works, new audiences and financial stability from the trustee perspective.

Open Sessions
Twenty-two open sessions will be offered during the course of Opera Conference 2014, addressing the needs of staff, trustees, volunteers and other industry professionals in the areas of artistic and artist training, management, development, finance, marketing, public relations, volunteerism and technical/production. These sessions are:

  • Achieving Greater Patron Lifetime Value
  • Affordable Care Act: For Individuals
  • Aliens of Extraordinary Ability: Visas, Insurance and Taxes
  • All in the Family: Audience Retention Strategies
  • Boards Beyond Fundraising
  • Branding and Messaging for Fundraising
  • Change is Good: Artistic and Organizational Planning
  • Composition in the Board Room, Too
  • Dead or Alive? The State of Subscriptions in the 21st Century
  • DIY Video Projects for Opera Education
  • From Aida to Zorn: Finding Your Audience’s Blueprint
  • Leading Collective Impact
  • A New Benefits Paradigm: The Affordable Care Act and Opera Employers
  • New Technology Partnerships
  • New Works Sampler Libretto Reading
  • Next Gen Opera Educators
  • Not-For-Profit Audit Update
  • Opera PR 2.0: Building a Relationship With Today’s Media
  • Optimizing the Role of the Board
  • Rebooting Your Volunteer Organizations
  • Recording and Simulcasting: The Real Expenses and Outcomes
  • Thinking Outside the (Drop)Box

These workshops provide an extended opportunity for in-depth learning about a focused topic, prior to the start of the main conference. Opera Conference 2014 seminars include:

  • Tools for Every Manager: Leadership and Interpersonal Communication
  • More Moves Management
  • Media Training Boot Camp
  • Understanding Your “Corporate Culture” and Mobilizing Stakeholders

Networks and Forums
As part of the effort to identify and respond to challenges in the field, OPERA America has established a number of artistic and administrative network Forums to advance understanding in critical areas of the industry. Several of these Forums will meet during the conference, including the:

  • New Works Forum
  • Singer Training Forum
  • Technical/Production Forum
  • Finance, HR & Administration Forum

Artist Intensive
Leading opera artists and administrators provide vital career advice at this special one-day workshop featuring feedback auditions, portfolio reviews and one-on-one mentoring sessions with industry experts, as well as panel discussions and presentations on a variety of professional development topics for artists at all stages of career advancement. Participating professionals include Richard Bado, Rice University and Houston Grand Opera; David T. Little, composer; William Powers, Pittsburgh Opera; Ryan Taylor, Arizona Opera; Dona D. Vaughn, director and Manhattan School of Music; and Melissa Wegner, The Metropolitan Opera.

Leadership Intensive
Generously supported by the American Express Foundation, the Leadership Intensive identifies the most promising emerging leaders in the field of opera administration and provides them with the skills and contacts needed to advance their careers. The program takes place at Opera Conference 2014 and at the National Opera Center in New York City. (See the Leadership Intensive press announcement.)

New General Directors Roundtable
The New General Directors Roundtable is a peer learning group consisting of recent appointees to their first general director/chief staff officer positions at companies with budgets between $1 million and $5 million. Through facilitated discussion and formal presentations, OPERA America responds to the needs articulated by participants, including strategy formulation, staff management, board relations and work/life balance.

Building Opera Audiences
One of OPERA America’s newer grant programs, generously funded by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the Building Opera Audiences session features presentations of innovative audience development projects. (See the 2013 and 2014 Building Opera Audiences press announcements.)

Throughout the conference, a number of special networking activities are planned, giving attendees maximum opportunity to strengthen bonds with colleagues and generate ideas.

OPERA America’s New Works Sampler is an evening of works-in-progress and recent premieres, featuring the wide spectrum of musical styles employed by today’s emerging and established composers. Selections include:

  • Abandoned from the opera cycle Ghosts of Crosstown
    Kamran Ince, composer | Jerre Dye, librettist
    Produced by Opera Memphis
  • “Another Sunrise” from the opera Out of Darkness: A Triptych of Holocaust Stories
    Jake Heggie, composer | Gene Scheer, librettist
    Produced by Festival Opera
  • Breaking the Waves
    Missy Mazzoli, composer | Royce Vavrek, librettist
    Produced by Opera Philadelphia
  • Frau Schindler
    Thomas Morse, composer | Ken Cazan, librettist
    Submitted by G. Schirmer, Inc. and produced by OPERA America
  • The Long Walk
    Jeremy Howard Beck, composer | Stephanie Fleischmann, librettist
    Produced by American Lyric Theater
  • Past the Checkpoints
    David Hanlon, composer | Joann Farias, librettist
    Produced by Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco

During the conference, attendees have the opportunity to see several productions from host company San Francisco Opera, held at the War Memorial Opera House:

  • Show Boat by Jerome Kern (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (book and lyrics).
    A true classic of American musical theater, this tale of life on the Mississippi from the 1880s to the 1920s is both a poignant love story and a powerful reminder of the bitter legacy of racism.
  • La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (music) and Francesca Maria Piave (libretto).
    Violetta Valéry may be the most heart-wrenching character in all of opera: a high-spirited but deceptively delicate woman who unexpectedly finds, and then selflessly gives up, the love of her all-too-short life.
  • Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini (music) and Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica (libretto).
    Puccini’s heartbreaking tale of innocence, betrayal and sacrifice returns in a bold and beautiful production.

San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle, a professional company member of OPERA America, develops and performs contemporary chamber operas, engaging audiences in a compelling new culture of dramatic vocal works. During the conference, the company invites attendees to join them for Anya17, by British Composer Award-winner Adam Gorb (music) and Ben Kaye (libretto). Anya17 was written specifically to raise awareness of the secret world of sex trafficking, where up to 800,000 young women and children are trafficked into the EU every year.

Special Offer for the Bay Area Arts Community
OPERA America has tailored a special conference package of events for patrons, trustees and staff. For just $95, the package provides access to select conference sessions featuring some of the most influential arts leaders that address vital issues affecting the entire arts industry. Sessions included in the package are:

  • Opening Session with Frederica von Stade and Jake Heggie
  • Achieving Civic Impact
  • Trends in Philanthropy: Post-Recession Realities
  • Re-Imagining Impact: The User Experience
  • New Works Sampler


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

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