As we launch into our fundraising season, I have several piles of papers on my desk: one of foundations, one of grants, and one of companies that we hope will help us realize this production. All of them ask the same question: why should we bring an opera company to this community?
This is always a difficult question for me. The answer is obvious in one way. I believe in opera. I believe in the importance of music and storytelling to remind us of our collective humanity. At the same time, when you work in the arts, you have a sense that other non-profits are more valuable than your own. That non-profits that are trying to end hunger or bring fresh water to places that don’t have it should probably get priority.
And yet, I think that is cutting us short. Art is about reflection of experience. That is what makes us feel like we are part of an overall experience. Not alone. Not isolated.
At its heart, opera is simply telling stories to music. They can be long stories and short stories. Generally when you take opera singers, who are not known for being quiet, and add an orchestra, also not entirely quiet, to a story it enhances and heightens a story in a cathartic manner. It goes beyond a simple story and to the heart of what makes us human.
For example, the first mention of Orpheus and Euridyce is in 530 BC. The story has been retold over 75 times in operatic form over a 400 year period. Why? Because we have all loved and lost to varying degrees. It is part of our collective conscience and to come together to share this story is to love again, to mourn again, and to find hope again. And we can do it together.
This is my community. I want to live here. As a working artist/administrator, I want to have work that is meaningful and that contributes to the overall good of my community. I want to live in a town where the arts thrive; where opera is part of the fabric of our community.
The goal of VTOP is to bring newer, smaller chamber works to Vermont. Why? Because there is so much new work out there; so many operas that haven’t been heard and deserve an audience. Because Vermonters are known for their adventurous spirit and artistic leanings and I know for a fact I am not the only opera lover her.
Now I just need to get all of that under 500 characters and all will be well.