Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
Virginia Tech, whose motto is “Invent the Future,” is arguably doing just that with their newly commissioned opera The Three Feathers, opening this weekend. Written by Lori Laitman and former NEA chairman Dana Gioia, the work is based on a relatively unknown fairy tale in the Grimm collection, and involves a new, technically advanced set, three separate rhyming children’s choruses, princesses, and a large variety of other engaging elements. Read more about it here..
Undoubtedly, there are a few different schools of thought on the direction of new operas and how they fit into the history and future of the art form. Most straightforwardly, however, there are those who like it, those who don’t; those who see that these new works have a place, and those that don’t think they’ll stay around to make the history books.
While this is an opera originally written for children, these creators have put a lot of thought into the sustainability of the piece, considering what might work well with their audiences, or cause them to remember/discuss what was heard and seen. And ultimately, I’d argue that that may be a major factor in creating a sustainable piece of art in the United States today. And arts managers across all fields should pay heed to what is working in the opera world; as one of the most dynamically struggling branches of our industry, eyes and ears should be peeled for what is working for millennial audiences and young families, as well as what continues to engage those of older generations.