Opera galas for a good cause. By attending opera galas and supporting the companies which I write about in this section, you are not only supporting the future of opera, but are having a great time and getting a tax deduction. It is a win-win situation for everyone.
I am pleased to inaugurate this new section with the Maryland Lyric Opera gala evening which took place on May 29, 2015 at the Embassy of Argentina. In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007/2008 which resulted in the closing of several opera companies, including two in the Washington DC / Baltimore area-- Baltimore Opera and Summer Opera Theater (Washington DC)-- it is encouraging to see the birth of a new company, Maryland Lyric Opera, (MLO) especially one whose philosophy focuses on the human voice.
Founder and executive director of MLO Brad Clark wrote, “Everything that exists in an opera production, the orchestra, text, staging, sets and costumes, exist for the sole purpose of supporting those strong and colorful emotions that only the human voice can produce.” If you consider the evolution of opera and opera productions from the Baroque to Bel Canto and Verismo to contemporary, from the creation of the orchestra pit to the birth of Regietheater in the late 1900s which elevated the director (Regisseur) and sometimes made the singer a puppet of the director’s concept, you can appreciate the decline in the importance of the singer in productions. It also set the stage for some epic battles, one of which took place at the Metropolitan Opera (New York) when the director and conductor of a new production of Cavalleria rusticana couldn’t agree resulting in the cancellation of the opera. The Argentinian soprano Fabiana Bravo had been contracted to sing in this production for which she had just learned the role. Clark saw this as an opportunity to bring his idea of a new company to fruition, that of making the singer the most important element in the opera, by hiring Bravo to sing in Cavalleria rusticana inaugurating MLO in July 2014.
The Maryland Lyric Opera performs in the (singer-friendly) intimate 632-seat Kay Theater at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, where their second season opens on July 18 with Roméo et Juilette. Leading up to the July performances, intimate opera soirees in people’s homes, gardens, and embassies are taking place, bringing glamour back to the opera as in its glorious days. For more information, visit www.marylandlyricopera.org or telephone 240 427 5568.