June 10, 2018
Granted, Omaha may be home to Warren Buffett, but home to a noteworthy opera company, an enterprise that recently mounted a festival capped by a significant world premiere?
The days when musical headlines had to be made in New York and a few other culture capitals have obviously gone now, thanks to a continent-wide flourishing of the arts on both sides of the 49th parallel.
Opera Omaha is making a name for itself with festivals, productions
Opera Omaha is a relatively small company, the only one in the state of Nebraska, its budget a fraction of the size of the Canadian Opera Company’s. And yet, my April visit was the third — over a considerable number of years — to attend a world premiere.
Enterprise doesn’t have to be a function of size. What Opera Omaha, in common with an increasing number of opera producers, is discovering is that today’s public is open to new experiences.
When the Metropolitan Opera House opened its doors in the late 19th century it performed Gounod’s Faust so often for its conservative public that its nickname became the Faustspielhaus. Well, Opera Omaha will also be performing Faust this coming season, along with such other standard repertory staples as Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci and Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. But it will be performing as well Les Enfants Terribles by today’s minimalist superstar, Philip Glass. And there will be another festival, too.
ONE Festival, as this year’s two-week, 50-plus-event program of performances, exhibitions, concerts and installations was called, inaugurated a three-season pilot project under the direction of James Darrah, designed to broaden the community’s range of artistic experiences.
At the core of the project were two major operatic productions, one of them Cherubini’s rarely staged Medea (1797), co-produced with Ireland’s Wexford Festival Opera; the other the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up, co-produced with Washington National Opera and Columbia University’s Miller Theatre.
In tandem with these operas the festival mounted three multidisciplinary explorations of the artistic process, one of them a multi-screen film installation complementing John Adams’s The Dharma at Big Sur; the second a working rehearsal of Handel’s Ariodante and the third, The Wreck, an original work created by a team of artists during an Omaha residency.
It isn’t often the public is afforded a chance to peer into the operatic laboratory, but the test tubes and beakers were on display in Omaha, along with various panel discussions and talks designed to further enhance audience enjoyment.
In other words, this smallish company in the vast North American prairie is trying to make opera more of an interactive art form. I didn’t see Warren Buffett in the audience but, hey, you can’t reach everybody.
What I did see was a public obviously intrigued by an art form all too often regarded as formal and elitist. Medea is a rather formal opera, at least musically, but in this modern dress production director Andrew Eggert focused attention on the raw emotions of the ancient Greek drama and Euripides’ tale obviously held its audience.
As for Proving Up, it offered probably the most depressing tale I’ve ever experienced in an opera, told by Mazzoli and her Canadian-born librettist Royce Vavrek, directed by Darrah and conducted by Christopher Rountree with a directness and power equal to its subject.
Its subject is the destruction of a homesteading family in Nebraska in the years following the Civil War, a family crushed by drought, famine and loss. Performed in Kaneko, a spacious modern art gallery, on a stage covered with soil and surrounded by the audience on three sides, by a cast almost frightening in its intensity, Proving Up clearly resonated with its Nebraska audience and left this visitor shaken.
Yes, opera can do that and an opera company brave enough to take its audience where it hasn’t been before understands the difference between a living art form and a museum.
On a previous visit I attended the premiere of Eric Hermanson’s Soul, an opera by Libby Larsen based on another locally rooted story, by Nebraska’s foremost writer, Willa Cather. Operas don’t have to be about long ago and far away. They do have to connect with their audience. They seem to understand this in Omaha.
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Nikki and Brie Bella take us inside their closets, talk pregnancy style | Page Six Celebrity News
April 01, 2020
T9art86o6FI
Is ‘Bigger’ better? BET+ sex scene review | Page Six Celebrity News
April 01, 2020
1XBLbXU1rPQ
Are Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown dating? TikToks hints at romance | Page Six Celebrity News
March 27, 2020
gkwXOYkNxNA
Kim Kardashian & More Celebrities Crash Students' Online Classes | E! News
April 02, 2020
iooqyCb7V-4
Tekashi 6ix9ine Released Early From Prison Amid Coronavirus Concerns | E! News
April 02, 2020
nSIMV8zfFRM
Drew Barrymore's Funny Attempt at Staircase Challenge | E! News
April 02, 2020
ihwa161Tx6c
Viola Davis on 'How to Get Away With Murder' - Variety After-Show
April 03, 2020
XnU1gziXJoc
'Ozark' Star Julia Garner Dishes on Season 3 and More
April 02, 2020
VeGwZ7qh1Y0
'Tiger King': Joe Exotic's Fourth Husband Dillon Speaks Out
April 01, 2020
vIVHtkWYsbw
Cardi B's Stomach Pains Force Trip to ER Amid Coronavirus Pandemic | TMZ
April 03, 2020
RGupbFf3Tc4
Andrew Yang Says Coronavirus Triggered Racism Against Asians | TMZ
April 02, 2020
ZSsV6Nyx6dY
Daymond John Issues Dire Warning to Retailers Reeling from Pandemic | TMZ
April 02, 2020
0a83Yqkx5XM
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
08
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Inter Milan
08
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Manchester City
08
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Everton
08
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Betis - Real Madrid
08
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Genoa
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Burnley - Tottenham Hotspur
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - West Ham United
07
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Sociedad
07
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Sevilla
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k tudKp5Vhs3k iwWHibhssSo kQr0XHPbICM 5NeCb7JxaRk u5xQKdNqazE 56CdjlzJqSA kw7uFRs-Az0 xNv0JZWLV7w
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.