Guest Bloger Kayla Maxym of the Opera Insider Covers Day 1 of the Opera America 2010 Conference in L.A.

     This is only my second Opera America conference, but I'm already a fan. This year is a lot bigger than last year, at least double or maybe even triple the number of attendees as last year in Houston.
     The day started off yesterday, actually, with the welcome reception which took place at the LA Opera House in a beautiful room overlooking the main plaza. Everyone gathered, schmoozing began almost immediately, wine and champagne flowed freely, and oh yeah, Placido Domingo showed up. "Truly the artist who needs no introduction," Opera America CEO and President Marc Scorca said of him, Domingo, who has been in the opera world for about half a century now in various capacities, encouraged all those present to use these days to "discuss" and come up with new ways of thinking and talking about opera. Marc Stern, Chairman and CEO of LA Opera noted that opera fans are the craziest bunch of fans ever... except the Lakers! We at The Opera Insider certainly believe, and hope, that to be true.

     Today started off with a marvelous keynote speech by composer and stage director Daniel Catan, originally from Mexico but now a U.S. citizen and a resident of Los Angeles. He remarked how, in their time, operas premiered in quick succession in various opera houses within the same country, even within a short distance of one another, and he wondered at the reasons why, even with all the technological advances we have on our side during this day and age, this does not seem possible today. Tosca, he noted, had toured the world within a year... why then could
premieres from here in the U.S. theoretically not do the same?
     After the opening address I attended a speech by an investment strategist at Wells Fargo Bank, an excellent speaker who had the audience practically rolling in the aisles with his dead-pan humor about the current (and future) economic situation. It's all relevant, so very relevant to opera today, and he specifically spoke about the trends that the economic downturn has had on donors (mainly individuals). This was followed by the obligatory schmooze session over coffee, where I had the chance to peruse the various companies and organizations that had tables set out in the exhibit hall.
     A discussion with Achim Freyer, the controversial stage director (and co-lighting designer, interestingly enough) of the LA Opera Ring Cycle. I wish I had been able to understand more of the discussion but between his broken English and his naturally quiet speaking voice, a lot was lost on me. Add to that the fact that I was sitting behind a very tall woman and therefore unable to read his lips, and I really didn't get much out of it sadly.
     I had lunch with three very interesting people: the two ladies who run Opera on Tap (, a fantastic organization that now has chapters across the country and seeks to widen opera audiences by bringing the art form to them in unusual places. They are doing very well, indeed. Also present was Tim Ribchester, a musicologist, coach, and pianist from Philly.
     The evening finished with an absolutely unforgettable production of Wagner's Die Walkure. I would write more about it if I could but I think this will take me days to process. I'm on the "I love it" side of things. "You'll either love it, or you'll hate it," Marc Stern had said the night before, and it is absolutely obvious to me why he made this kind of statement. I was blown away though. Stay tuned for more!

-Kala Maxym
Executive Director
The Opera Insider

No comments:

Post a Comment