VNPAC: The Opera America Experience Begins

[Ed. Note: You may recall that two years ago the American Music Center, American Composers Forum, and Meet The Composer joined forces to bring 75 composers from all over the country to Denver to participate in the National Performing Arts Convention (NPAC), a co-convening of the membership of Chorus America, OPERA America, the League of American Orchestras, Dance USA, and Theatre Communications Group. This year, since each of these organizations is meeting in a different city—although the Chorus and Orchestra conferences are both happening in Atlanta—we've tracked down local composers to attend all of these conferences and report back on them here on NewMusicBox—a virtual NPAC with composer bloggers-in-residence. It should be a lively week-and-a-half of discussions. Wherever you are, feel free to join in!—FJO]

Yesterday, Opera America’s 2010 conference “New Realities/New Strategies” began, hosted by the Los Angeles Opera. I found that the most engaging part of it was the cocktail party, where I got to talk with a lot of different people from disparate ends of the opera world. Here are a few of my observations:

  1. Öpërä Ämëricä
    On the tip of everyone’s tongue is LA Opera’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen, which the conference is scheduled around. There was lots of Wagner-kibbitzing. In that vein, I got to talking with one woman who had a message to composers interested in writing new operas…
  2. ArtsVision
    I also chatted with Tom Nazelli and Catherine Wadley about their pioneering software, ArtsVision, designed to help organize performing artists and presenters. Their clients include BAM, London Symphony Orchestra, The Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Symphony, etc. What I found really interesting was that, through this technology, they are developing ways of inspiring artistic planning by giving administrators access to information about repertoire. So I asked Tom and Catherine, “Is there a place for composers in this new software?”

  3. Short Composers Unite
    Here’s a glimpse into my experience listening to Plácido Domingo address the conference. I like that he shamelessly champions the LA Opera. For whatever anyone thinks, he is a powerful voice and advocate for this company, and I think every arts organization needs that kind of strength out front, even if you are too short to see him through the conference crowds.

  4. My Network Dinner
    After the cocktail party, the conference broke down into sub-networks: General Directors and Trustees, Finance and Development, Education and Marketing/PR, and Artistic and Technical/Production. Each group went to a different restaurant in downtown LA known for some really excellent cuisine. I have to say, though, some of my favorite epicurean experiences are in the less formal haunts—like Philippe’s, “the birth place of the French dipped sandwich.” So I held my own new-music-friendly network dinner in this 1908 treasure, which inspired this:

Tomorrow I’m off to Day 2 of the Opera America Conference. Is there a place for composers at this conference? I’ll continue to investigate this query…

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