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Press Released: 12 May 2016

OPERA America Announces Details for Opera Conference 2016: Global Strategies/Local Actions

May 18–21 in Montréal, QC

Hosted by Opéra de Montréal In Association with Opera Volunteers International

Five Sessions of Field-Wide Impact to be Streamed Live at conference.operaamerica.org/Live

Daily Québécois Rush Passes Available to Local Residents

OPERA America, the national service organization for opera and the nation’s leading champion for American opera, is pleased to announce details of Opera Conference 2016: Global Strategies/Local Actions, to be held in Montréal, Québec, from May 18–21. Hosted by Opéra de Montréal in association with Opera Volunteers International, this annual gathering of opera professionals — the largest in North America — will convene at Le Westin Montréal and venues throughout the metro area. This marks the first time in OPERA America’s 46-year history that the conference will be held in Montréal and the fifth time in Canada.

With more than 500 industry leaders in attendance, OPERA America’s annual conference presents a unique opportunity to examine issues affecting the opera community from a variety of perspectives. With the theme “Global Strategies/Local Actions,” conference attendees will examine global trends — from within and outside the opera world — that can inform the bold decisions needed to amplify opera’s civic impact and bring vitality to both time-honored and new repertoire.

Opera Conference 2016 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 following:

  • The Opening Assembly, featuring discussions with François Girard, film and stage director, and Simon Brault, director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts;
  • General Session: Global to Local — Strategies for Opera, featuring a presentation from Bernard Foccroulle, general director of Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, about how opera can take on broad issues that have local resonance, followed by a discussion with Pierre Dufour, executive director of Opéra de Montréal, Ned Canty, general director of Opera Memphis, and Perryn Leech, managing director of Houston Grand Opera;
  • General Session: The Festival Effect, offering insights from Gilbert Rozon, founder and chairman of Just For Laughs, and André Ménard, co-founder and artistic director of Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, about how they have used the festival model to their advantage;
  • General Session: Reflections from Peter Gelb, featuring reflections from the Metropolitan Opera general manager on his 10 years leading the company;
  • Thirty open sessions featuring an array of topics and experts from within and beyond the opera field, such as Opera Repertoire: Energizing Old and New with Philip Kennicott, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist of The Washington Post; designer John Conklin; Kasper Holten, director of opera, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Robert Marx, president, the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; Zizi Mueller, creative consultant, Boosey & Hawkes; and Deborah Sandler, general director and CEO, Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
  • Seminars: five intensive skill-building workshops on topics such as Business Planning for Artists and Entrepreneurs; Elevating Your Marketing Efforts on a Budget; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts; Making Meaning of Your Arts Ecosystem; and Strengthening Fundraising and Leadership Capacities;
  • Session groupings focused on special themes, such as diversity in opera, as seen in Beyond Lip Service: Equity-Based Opera Leadership (open session) and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts (seminar);
  • Two World Premieres: The Trials of Patricia Isasa by Kristin Norderval and Naomi Wallace (presented by Chants Libres on May 19) and Les Feluettes (Lilies) by Kevin March and Michel Marc Bouchard (presented by Opéra de Montréal on May 21);
  • The New Works Forum, which nurtures more informed opera producers and creators, and establishes stronger relationships among them;
  • The Singer Training Forum, for those who are dedicated to the identification and development of aspiring singers; and
  • The New Works Sampler, with performances of Canadian and American works in progress and recent premieres, to take place at the Place des Arts.

Thirty open sessions provide conference attendees with valuable and practical information in specific administrative areas, including marketing, fundraising, governance, artistic planning, education and audience engagement. For the fifth straight year, the conference is presented in association with Opera Volunteers International. A special track of sessions for volunteers will address the important role that volunteerism plays in the success of opera companies.

“We are delighted to bring our annual conference to Montréal, a city renowned for its rich cultural heritage and international arts scene, for the very first time,” stated OPERA America President/CEO Marc A. Scorca. “With our colleagues at Opéra de Montréal, we look forward to taking a global perspective on issues of importance to opera — festival experiences, research, repertoire, change management and civic impact — and forging strategies to ensure the vibrancy of our art form throughout North America.”

Live Streaming
The innovative thinking and valuable tools gained during Opera Conference 2016 are not limited to those able to travel to Montréal. Select sessions will be streamed live on OPERA America’s website at conference.operaamerica.org/Live and later 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 #OperaConf.

Sessions streaming live from Montréal at conference.operaamerica.org/Live are:

  • Opening Assembly: Thursday, May 19 | 9:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. EDT
  • The Festival Effect: Friday, May 20 | 10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. EDT
  • New Works Sampler: Friday, May 20 | 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. EDT
  • Global to Local: Strategies for Opera: Saturday, May 21 | 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EDT
  • Reflections from Peter Gelb: Saturday, May 21 | 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.

See the Programming Details below for additional Opera Conference 2016 session and event information.

Registration will be available on-site, and attendance is open to anyone interested in opera and the performing arts.

Local residents with valid ID can take advantage of daily Québécois Rush Passes ($95 CAD per day), which provide entry to an array of general and open sessions each day. Québécois Rush Passes may be purchased by credit card at the conference Registration Desk at Le Westin Montréal, located at 270 Rue Saint-Antoine Ouest.

OPERA America gratefully acknowledges the support of the following Opera Conference 2016 sponsors:

  • Act 1 Tours
  • American Express Foundation
  • Arts Consulting Group
  • The Arts Insurance Program
  • Bank of America
  • Beethoven | Hero
  • Canada Council for the Arts
  • Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec
  • Fisher Dachs Associates
  • Genovese, Vanderhoof & Associates
  • The Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation
  • InstantEncore
  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Music Publishers Association
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • Schuler Shook
  • Stingray
  • Threshold Acoustics
  • Tourisme Montréal
  • TRG Arts
  • Truck’N Roll
  • The Wallace Foundation

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

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

Conference Program Details

Below are additional details about highlights of Opera Conference 2016.
For more information, visit the online schedule or see the program book.

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 Assembly: Acclaimed Québécois film and stage director François Girard will kick off Opera Conference 2016 by sharing his perspective on enlivening the drama of opera to resonate with modern audiences. Welcoming remarks from Manon Gauthier of the City of Montréal Executive Committee; Frayda B. Lindemann, Ph.D., OPERA America’s board chairman; Pierre Dufour, executive director of Opéra de Montréal; and Rhonda Sweeney, president of Opera Volunteers International, will follow. Marc A. Scorca, OPERA America’s president/CEO will then set the stage for introductory comments from Simon Brault, director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts.

  • The Festival Effect: Montréal is a city of festivals. Two of the city’s leading producers will share how they have used the festival model to their advantage. Gilbert Rozon is the founder and chairman of Just For Laughs, which is a month-long international comedy festival with related events held across North America. André Ménard is co-founder and artistic director of Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which features more than 3,000 artists performing in 1,000 concerts, of which most are free and outdoors. Both will outline their strategies for creating immersive experiences through concentrated activity. Hear responses and a facilitated conversation on what the opera field can learn from this model.

  • Global to Local — Strategies for Opera: Bernard Foccroulle, general director of Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in France, will demonstrate how opera can take on broad issues that have local resonance. As the former chairman of Opera Europa and director of Brussels’ La Monnaie, he brings a global perspective to the conference dialogue taking place at the crossroads of North America and Europe. Foccroulle’s presentation, which highlights the festival’s recent strategic plan to build access and participation, will serve as a springboard for other opera leaders to reflect on their own efforts to strengthen relationships both locally and across the globe.

  • Reflections from Peter Gelb: Peter Gelb will reflect on his 10 years at the helm of the Metropolitan Opera, one of the world’s most influential opera companies. Formal remarks will be followed by questions from Robert Marx, president of the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation.

  • Opera Conference Reflections and Anticipations: Tradition and innovation, global and local. Reflect with colleagues on these themes and others that emerged throughout the conference discussions. The host of Opera Conference 2017 will then extend an invitation to next year’s annual gathering.

Open Sessions
Thirty open sessions will be offered over the course of Opera Conference 2016, addressing the needs of staff, trustees, volunteers and other industry professionals. A number of these sessions focus on specific areas of practice, such as artistic administration, artist training and management, development, finance, marketing, public relations, volunteerism, and technical/production, while others foster cross-network dialogue. These sessions are:

  • AFM and AGMA Media Agreements
  • The Alumni Model for the Opera Field
  • Atelier Lyrique Young Artist Auditions
  • Audience Research in Action
  • Beyond Lip Service: Equity-Based Opera Leadership
  • The Board’s Role in Human Resource Development
  • Bridging Workplace Generation Gaps
  • Building Opera Audiences: Updates and Inspirations
  • Career Advance
  • Collaborations for Civic Impact
  • Co-Production Marketplace
  • Data + Stories Workshop Presented by DataArts
  • Dynamic Curriculum Development Presented by Lincoln Center Education (two sessions)
  • Effective Governance: Awareness, Understanding and Action
  • Electronica Media: A Strategic Imperative?
  • Entering the Major (Gift) League
  • Festival Formats: Right for You?
  • Fundraising and Volunteer Power
  • Gaming the Opera Season
  • Getting Ahead: Career Development for Artists
  • Long-Range Fundraising
  • Loyalty Programs and Fan Engagement: Learning from Professional Sports
  • New Works Forum (two sessions)
  • OPERA America Advocacy Forum
  • Opera Repertoire: Energizing Old and New
  • Production Manager’s Tour of Cirque du Soleil Costume Facility
  • Women’s Opera Network Discussion Groups (two sessions)

Conference seminars offer the opportunity for attendees to delve into a specific topic in a hands-on workshop environment (free with Team Registration; additional $75 fee for individuals). The seminar topics are:

  • Business Planning for Artists and Entrepreneurs
  • Elevating Your Marketing Efforts on a Budget
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts
  • Making Meaning of Your Arts Ecosystem
  • Strengthening Fundraising and Leadership Capacities

New Works Forum
OPERA America’s New Works Sampler, to be held at the Place des Arts, is an evening of works in progress and recent premieres. The performances represent the wide spectrum of musical styles employed by today’s emerging and established composers. This year, the first half of the performance will feature a showcase of new Canadian works, and the second half will feature American works. The New Works Sampler is made possible by generous and deeply appreciated grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Canadian works to be showcased are:

  • Ours
    John Estacio, composer | Robert Chafe, librettist
    Submitted by Opera on the Avalon
  • Stickboy
    Neil Weisensel, composer | Shane Koyczan, librettist
    Submitted by Vancouver Opera
  • Six Revolutions
    Tim Brady, composer | Guillaume Corbeil, librettist
    Submitted by Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal
  • M’dea Undone
    John Harris, composer | Marjorie Chan, librettist
    Submitted by Tapestry Opera

The American works to be showcased are:

  • As One
    Laura Kaminsky, composer | Kimberly Reed and Mark Campbell, librettists
    Submitted by American Opera Projects
  • JFK
    David T. Little, composer | Royce Vavrek, librettist
    Submitted by Fort Worth Opera
  • Morning Star
    Ricky Ian Gordon, composer | William M. Hoffman, librettist
    Submitted by Theodore Presser Company/Cincinnati Opera

The New Works Sampler performance will be live streamed at conference.operaamerica.org/Live on Friday, May 20 from 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. EDT and archived for later viewing at youtube.com/OPERAAmerica.

Two World Premieres
Conference attendees will have the chance to attend two world premieres:

  • Chants Libres will present the premiere of The Trials of Patricia Isasa by Kristin Norderval and Naomi Wallace on May 19. The opera is based on the life story of the Argentine architect and human rights activist Patricia Isasa, who was abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.
  • Opéra de Montréal will present the premiere of Les Feluettes (Lilies) by Kevin March and Michel Marc Bouchard on May 21. Lilies, a co-production with Pacific Opera Victoria, features two rising stars trained at the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal: baritone Etienne Dupuis and tenor Jean-Michel Richer.

Networks, Forums and Learning Themes
As part of its efforts to identify and respond to challenges facing opera professionals, OPERA America maintains a number of specialized networks and Forums to advance understanding in specific areas of the field. Several of these groups will meet during the conference, including:

  • Artistic Administration
  • Artists
  • Development and Fundraising
  • Education and Community Engagement
  • Finance, Administration and Human Resources
  • General Directors and CEOs
  • Marketing and Public Relations
  • New Works Forum
  • Singer Training Forum
  • Technical/Production
  • Trustees
  • Volunteers
  • Women’s Opera Network

In addition, sessions addressing the following learning themes are new additions to this year’s conference:

  • Research and Data
  • Advocacy and Government Affairs
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

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. This year, Leadership Intensive alumni from 2012–2014 will convene at conference for roundtable discussions. OPERA America also introduces a new Career Advance program, which will allow opera administrators in their first three to five years of full-time opera administration to participate in conference and gain career development strategies.

New General Directors Roundtable
The New General Directors Roundtable is a peer learning group consisting of recent appointees to their first general director or 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.


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

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