On the Road (Virtually)
During a typical year, Marc Scorca and members of the OPERA America team make informal visits to a number of the organization’s Professional Company Members. The pandemic prevented these trips from happening this year. In their absence, OA decided to embark on a virtual road trip, visiting as many of its PCMs as possible over the course of 2020–2021.
Each tour stop consists of two related events. First comes a casual afternoon roundtable with company staff. This provides an opportunity for OA to check in with constituents and discuss services that can help the company weather the current crisis. Scorca’s evening presentation, for the host company’s trustees, donors, and other stakeholders, focuses on the lessons of resilience and innovation that the four-century history of opera in America can reveal — and the individual company’s role within it.
For Chautauqua Opera, the afternoon session was a chance to bring members of the Chautauqua Institution, the company’s umbrella organization, into the discussion. “It catalyzed a meeting we would never have had otherwise,” says Steven Osgood, CO’s general and artistic director. “We had people from marketing and from the advancement team — all these different levels of the organization — coming together for a discussion about opera and our role in the industry. It energized us as a company, along with the institution itself.”
Mimicking an actual cross-country tour, the OA program started in the Northeast and will eventually wend its way south and west. As of press time, the road trip has made 22 stops with 30 companies, with the plan to see the remaining companies through June. In total, these visits will help maintain the network of companies, artists, and audiences that defines the American opera industry. “I remain optimistic about opera and the opera industry,” Scorca said on a recent tour stop. “Indeed, despite COVID, opera in the United States has never been more vibrant than it is today.”