Day 3 of Opera America's 2010 Conference by Guest Bloger Kala Maxym

       Dreams of hanging out by the pool with a nice cool lemonade vanished as I woke up to the third day of the Opera America conference. It's amazing how exhausting meeting people can be - in a good way, of course.
       The day started out for me with a one-on-one meeting with Georgianna Paul, Opera Specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Sadly scheduling had not gotten it quite right again so I had to wait around a bit, but the meeting was worth waiting for. Although The Opera Insider cannot at this time qualify for grants, she was very pleased to hear about our project and mentioned that of course it is always useful for her to know what's going on in the world, what's new and innovative, so that she can communicate that to her members. I then headed off to a Holistic Singer Training roundtable with Ann Baltz and several of her staff members from Opera Works, a two- or four-week intensive training for singers held yearly during the summer.

       This was probably one of the most interesting sessions I attended during the entire conference. We had General Directors, Artistic Directors, Singers, Ex-Singers, and lots of university professors and staff who were interested in finding a way to prepare their students better for a career in music. It isn't only about sequential learning, they all said, it's about preparing a "whole" artist. A baritone who was on the panel noted that "our goal as artists is to encourage instinct," which I thought was one of the best and most inclusive statements I have ever heard. It is all about instinct, it's about what is already in us that we just have to learn to access. Afterwards I met a couple of very interesting people: Lisa Sylvester, a coach at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, and Tamara
Cashour, a coach from NYC who also founded Opera Avant.
       I then headed off to yet another General Session, this time about "The New and Unusual: Is it Opera?" On the panel were James Conlon (no introduction needed here for sure!), Stage Director Diane Paulus, Designer John Conklin, Long Beach Opera Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek and David Gockley of the San Francisco Opera. While the discussion strayed a bit from the intended topic, the main points were basically the same: opera is opera if that is what it was intended to be. Whether it's in a pool, a bar, a garage, or a huge international stage, opera is everywhere and can reach everyone. For James Conlon, the most important thing is getting to kids early, instilling in them an appreciation for the art form, and helping them come to grips with it before they can be taught to be intimidated by it.
       I then attended a roundtable on "Maximizing resources in your Community," which focused largely on partnering with other arts institutions and organizations in one's hometown. The LA Ring Festival was a smash hit because of the partnerships they were able to secure, and I realized that this was actually a huge theme of the conference... and is slated to be one of the main topics for next year's conference in Boston. The Closing Session was inspiring as they always are. General Directors were celebrated for their contributions to their companies and those who had served either ten or twenty-five years were given plaques to commemorate their service. Diane Paulus gave a thrilling closing speech in which she remarked that the audience must feel "necessary" in today's world, something that we believe very sincerely at The Opera Insider. An identity for them is crucial, as they are a crucial part of
the success of any artistic endeavor. We must not forget them in the race to secure funds and publicity.
       All in all, a fab day and a great way to end a wonderful conference.

Kala Maxym
Executive Director
The Opera Insider

No comments:

Post a Comment