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Nine newly commissioned Micro Operas for Baldwin Wallace Voice Performance Students

MEN I'M NOT MARRIED TO

LISA DeSPAIN, composer

RACHEL J. PETERS, libretto

Adapted from the text by Dorothy Parker

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THE STREAM

MICHI WIANCKO, composer

SARAH LaBRIE, libretto

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PREPARED

GRIFFIN CANDEY, composer

CAROLINE V. McGRAW, libretto

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CINDERELLA 99

JAKE HEGGIE, composer

GENE SCHEER, libretto

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VIRTUALLY DEAD

KAMALA SANKARAM, composer

JERRE DYE, libretto

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FOR LIFE

DAWN SONNTAG, composer

KERMIT COLE, libretto

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600 SQUARE FEET

NKEIRU OKOYE, composer

DAVID COTE, libretto

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PANDORA JONES

LIBBY LARSEN, composer

ELEANOR WILNER, text

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FAMILY ADVENTURES

JOSH SCHMIDT, composer

ROYCE VAVREK, libretto

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A co-production between Baldwin Wallace Voice Performance, Cleveland Opera Theater, and On Site Opera

COMPOSERS and LIBRETTISTS

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Griffin Candey
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Kermit Cole
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David Cote
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Lisa DeSpain
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Jerre Dye
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Jake Heggie
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Sarah LaBrie
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Libby Larsen
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Caroline V. McGraw
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Nkeiru Okoye
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Rachel J. Peters
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Kamala Sankaram
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Gene Scheer
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Josh Schmidt
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Dawn Sonntag
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Royce Vavrek
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Michi Wiancko
TALKBACK

A Talkback session followed the premiere of each opera. 
Watch the talkback session recordings to go behind the scenes and learn about the process of bringing the new operas to life in unique and
challenging circumstances with the Creative Team and Artists.

AN "ORIGIN STORY"

How OPERAS in PLACE came to be

Baldwin Wallace Voice Performance had a brilliant '20 / '21 season planned:

Our Playhouse Square debut with a new production of  Monteverdi's L’Orfeo (Nov. '20), the highly anticipated World Premiere production of La Casa de Bernarda Alba (Feb. '21), and a magical production of  Händel's Alcina (March '21).

 

When COVID-19 made it neither feasible nor safe to produce our season as planned we began exploring alternatives.  Offering a virtual version of those planned live in-person productions felt like a "second best" compromise.  While still sheltered in place we considered programming a season of operas that had been written for TV or radio performance, but although the delivery medium would be conducive to social distance protocols, those operas were written to be rehearsed and performed in a standard in-person format and would be exceedingly difficult to rehearse, collaborate, and perform remotely.  Rather than offer a "second best" or try to retro-fit repertoire that could possibly amplify COVID safety protocol-imposed limitations, the project would need to be flexible in order to facilitate rehearsals and performances in a wide variety of scenarios in a way that would be safe to artists and audience no matter what the virus dealt us. A new project vision emerged to offer a reimagined season designed to embrace our circumstances in a way that would amplify the opportunities, rather than the short comings of our circumstances that required remote collaboration.  

 

Director of Opera Studies, Scott Skiba reached out to a number of world-renowned composers and librettists to pitch the project vision and ask if they would be willing to participate.  The pitch: Would you please consider writing a Micro Opera - 10-ish minutes in length on any topic of interest - specifically for the BW Voice Performance students? The subject matter and style is wide open to creative freedom.  Since it's likely that university COVID safety protocols would mandate that in-person rehearsal and performance would not be possible, the only stipulation is to write in a way that could be rehearsed and performed separately so that we can embrace remote collaboration that would require cast members to rehearse via Zoom, for the orchestra to rehearse and record separately from the singers and perhaps from each other, and for the cast members to record audio and video separately from each other as well.  

An amazing group of internationally-recognized composers and librettists - fantastic artists and humans all - agreed to take part in this project.  BW students had the unique an unprecedented opportunities to collaborate with exceptional librettists and composers, and to learn about audio, video, and digital techniques that are being advanced and explored in this time, and to develop new repertoire in a never-been-done-before process.  What would ensue is a strange artistic journey of creation, collaboration, rehearsal, recording, and performance that culminates in this virtual festival presentation of nine new Micro Operas.   Along the journey, the students developed and applied skills in the Operas in Place project that are transferable to other future creative recording and production projects.   

 

Each Micro Opera is unique in style, story, and approach.  Each stands alone individually and each compliments the other among the eclectic array.   These were operas "in place" of what was planned, and accomplishable even if the need to shelter "in place" persisted... but they became much more than that.  Each of these operas became a place to connect over great distances, a place to be together although apart, and a place to come together in the creative art making process in a uniquely memorable and meaningful way.  "In place" and "our place" ...our necessary place to connect, to collaborate, and to create as we all navigated through uncharted territory in every sense imaginable.  Thank you for being part of this unique journey!