Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Opera Think Tank 2.0

We're back! And wow, what a different world we have now. New York City Opera is gone, San Diego Opera barely survived shuttering, and the Met just mud-slung its way through some interminable union negotiations. Some say we're dragging behind in every way, if you read the comments here. Meanwhile there is a growing number of young leaders in opera and new work being made everywhere you look.

In the eight years I've been in NYC, however, it seems like opportunities have dwindled for singers to actually develop and perform here in the city. Meanwhile I find myself in amazing theatre spaces set up by actors and comedians - artists who work at their craft to a point that they can perform any where, any time - places like the PIT and Magnet and spaces that not only have a great theatre spaces, but great bars where people can hang out and have a good time on a Friday night. Why don't these spaces exist for opera?


The PIT, or People's Improv Theatre, has great spaces for performing and hanging out


There was recently a great article picking apart the many ways that the Met makes going to the theatre unnecessarily cumbersome and difficult. It's a theatre house stuck in a century-old tradition of entertainment. But hey, let's not pick on the Met - they are the nation's largest performing arts organization. I just wish there was more middle ground, especially in New York, where you might trip over a singer, a director, or a designer every three feet.

So I decided to do something about it and launched OPERA THINK TANK this summer. We've only just begun, but we have a packed schedule for the fall in an amazing new theatre space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.


The stunning staff of Triskelion in front of their new free-standing theatre building!


So here's how it all works, at least for now:

OPERA THINK TANK's goal is to get an ensemble of singers making theatre together on a regular basis, creating regular performance opportunities that singers can join whenever they are available.

Led by director/choreographer Heidi Lauren Duke and guest coach/conductor Carmine Aufiero, the THINK TANK also includes includes guest coaches, directors, and designers.


The flexible session schedule includes private coaching, ensemble work on skills and dramaturgy, and public presentations. No new music to learn - all a singer needs to prepare is her current rep - either her 5 audition arias or other arias/duets that a singer wants to brush up or get in front of an audience. We will use principals of improv comedy, theatre composition, and reinterpreting the classics to create a vocabulary and process we can use again and again to create engaging opera theatre.

Throughout the 2014-15 season, singers may join ongoing weekly sessions whenever they are available. Performances will be monthly and will be cast from new singers that have attended at least 3 sessions total, and singers who are already part of the roster but have attended at least one session in the current month.


So experienced singers could work with us a bit, then leave town, come back for two weeks (or six months), and perform in quality shows in NYC with limited rehearsal time. Younger or less experienced artists can come every week and continuously work on their skills and craft, performing as they wish. Meanwhile singers can invite their friends and fans to see them perform in a gorgeous space in a fun neighborhood with amazing views of Manhattan.


Sunset earlier this year at East River Park, an easy walk from Triskelion


So save the dates for our Saturday night fall shows - come have dinner before at Adelina's, Jimmy's, Calexico, or just come wander around this booming neighborhood:

Saturdays at 10pm

October 18th, November 15th, and December 13th

Triskelion Arts, 106 Calyer Street, Williamsburg / Greenpoint, Brooklyn

And donate here to Triskelion's valiant efforts to provide a home for so many artists!