Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
When I saw this article (A Strange Disappearance and What the Neighbors Have to Say About It ) on the New York Times Website, I was immediately drawn to it because I recognized a good friend of mine, Cree Carico, in the picture.
Vivien Schweitzer ( the author), begins this particular article with the sentence “In light of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March, David Lang’s “The Difficulty of Crossing a Field,” a musical-theater piece about a man who suddenly vanishes, has a particular resonance.” I felt this was an interesting lead and expected Schweitzer to continue her comparison of the missing flight and the modern opera throughout here piece, but she simply does not. This really threw me off and I wondered why she even bothered bringing that topic up?
Anyway, Schweitzer continues by discussing the plot of of the multimedia opera and in the process casually references the producer Beth Morrison. If you don’t know who she is, you should, because she does some very impressive work with modern opera and multi-media performances.
Morrison, who began her classical music careers as a voice student at Boston University, went on to earn a Masters degree in Vocal Pedagogy from Arizona State University. Subsequently she taught at the esteemed Tanglewood institute and in 1999 became its Director. One thing led to another and while immersing herself in the Boston independent theater scene, Ms. Morrison “started forming this idea that I wanted to form my own company that was going to be all about the new.”
Morrison likes to build the shows from the group up, working with composers and librettists not just as a fund-raiser, but also as a matchmaker, booster, tour booker and creative sounding board. One example where she engaged in detailed work with the composer war the “Soilder Songs” by David T. Little.
Over time her her projects have grown more elaborate and accomplished over time; today, a typical production demands a budget of $100,000 to $200,000.
What I find so wonderful about her productions is that she takes music into new directions and provides almost an entirely new genre of opera. Her story from musicians to teacher to director to producer and stage director is simply inspiring.
What I found particularly interesting was her reaction when asked whether she might consider running an institution herself.
“She smiled coyly but demurred: “The ability to make decisions as I want to make them, without an institution, means that I can take more risks, and it means that we can change course on a dime,” she said. “That mentality, that way of working, really suits me.”
Reflect on that statement fellow Arts Managers 😉