OPERA America Offers Glimpses into American Opera Over Past Half-Century in Newly Released Oral History Project
The first collection of interviews featuring Anthony Davis, Simon Estes, Denyce Graves, Joseph Volpe, and more is now available.
Supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation.
June 22, 2022 (New York) — OPERA America invites opera appreciators and professionals to explore a new collection of anecdotes, memories, and reflections on the past half-century of opera in the United States.
The newly released Oral History Project, supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation, offers a trove of interviews with opera pioneers, including composer Anthony Davis, bass-baritone Simon Estes, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, arts administrator Joseph Volpe, and more.
Conducted by OPERA America president/CEO Marc A. Scorca, and featuring introductions by Denyce Graves, these conversations with esteemed administrators, artists, and advocates provide insightful commentary and lessons on the development of the American opera field. These stories will empower the next generation of leaders to produce opera that honors the history of the art form in this country and builds on it for new audiences.
“The establishment of opera in America is rich with fascinating stories from the artists, administrators, and trustees who shaped the field through their efforts,” said Scorca. “We have been able to collect personal, behind-the-scenes accounts from the past 50 years that might otherwise have been lost to time, and, through the Oral History Project, are able to share them to inform and inspire the next generation of leaders who will chart a course for our future.”
Conceived as part of OPERA America’s 50th anniversary, the project began in 2020 and was swiftly put on pause by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past two years, the project was reimagined from an audio-only format to a robust series of video interviews recorded over Zoom.
Seventy-five oral histories will be published to the OPERA America website over the next year. The first group, released today, includes:
- Anthony Davis, composer
- Simon Estes, bass-baritone
- Ann Farris, arts administrator and producer
- Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano
- Grethe Barrett Holby, director, choreographer, and artist
- Peter Russell, arts administrator
- Kevin Smith, general director
- Joseph Volpe, general director
- James Wright, general director
- Francesca Zambello, stage director and general director
Additional oral histories will be released on the third Wednesday of each month through the summer and fall. These will include Susan Feder, funder; Hal France, conductor; Frayda B. Lindemann, trustee; Sherrill Milnes, baritone; George Shirley, tenor; Carol Vaness, soprano and educator; and Stephen Wadsworth, stage director and administrator; among others. Transcripts are provided for all interviews.
The Oral History Project is available on the OPERA America website at operaamerica.org/OralHistory. To receive reminders about each release, subscribe to OPERA America’s biweekly e-newsletter, OperaLink, at operaamerica.org/SignUp.
The Oral History Project, a part of OPERA America's 50th Anniversary, is supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. To learn more about the 50th Anniversary, visit operaamerica.org/50thAnniversary.