Have you seen the #5X5Challenge floating around on social media? Fresh Squeezed Opera’s Executive Director, Jillian Flexner, would like to help you pass the “Name 5 living women composers” part with ease by introducing listeners to their work as well as their names. However, Fresh Squeezed Opera is doing more than producing works solely by women. They’re marking their sixth year of producing, commissioning, and performing new opera for today’s audiences. In this season you’ll find new and historic works that actively examine and celebrate explorations of identity, chance, collaboration, and cultural influences in the 21st century. The giants of our field may be striking out a little too often when it comes to relevancy; but, Flexner and Fresh Squeezed Opera seem ready to mirror Babe Ruth’s called shot.
WHAT IS THE FIRST THING ABOUT AN OPERA THAT TRULY GRABS YOUR ATTENTION AND MAKES YOU CONSIDER PROGRAMMING IT?
Programming new opera is particularly challenging. The thing with opera–and the thing that I love most about opera–is its gesamtkunstwerk. Opera isn’t just music, or theater, or set design, or costume design. It encompasses so many aspects of all art. So, when we scour the submissions from a call for scores for something to produce on a fully-staged scale, and all we have to go off is a score, a plot synopsis, and in some cases a recording, it’s very challenging.
What I hope to see in an opera is something that can be collaborative (is the score over-edited with specific stage directions allowing no room for interpretation? Is there a healthy group of artists involved in the orchestration and voice types?), something that can resonate with contemporary audiences, (is the plot overcomplicated? Are the characters relatable?), and something that is inspiring (do I feel emotionally moved or changed? Have I been challenged musically?).
Andy Dwan & Cara Search in Fresh Squeezed Opera’s 2018 production of Knot An Opera! by Constantin Basica–Photo by Steven Pisano
FRESH SQUEEZED OPERA IS PRESENTING THE WORLD PREMIERE PRODUCTION OF AMERICAN COMPOSER MIRIAM GIDEON’S ONLY OPERA, FORTUNATO. HOW HAS THIS WORK GONE FROM PARTIALL