« Ecstatic Tears for Jenufa | Main | Mark Adamo's Harp Concerto »

Revolution: WNO Offers Free Opera Simulcasts to American Schools

Revolution, this is how the Dresser describes what Plácido Domingo and the Washington National Opera board of directors are doing this fall when they initiate an entirely free-to-the-public program that will simultaneously broadcast via satellite a live performance of Puccini’s well known opera La Bohème to universities, colleges, and high schools across the United States.

For those who have attended WNO simulcasts of Porgy and Bess in 2005 and Madama Butterfly in 2006 that were broadcast at the Washington Monument grounds in Washington, DC, or gone to select movie theater this past winter around the US to see such operas as The Last Emperor broadcast live from the Metropolitan Opera, it is easy to understand the excitement of what these broadcasts to schools around America mean to the future of opera.


On May 23, 2007 at the Kennedy Center during a WNO press conference, the Dresser spoke with educators

involved in this program. Some like Christine Anderson, Associate Professor of Vocal Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, say they will open their auditoriums for the Bohème simulcast not only to their students but also to their nearby communities. Professor Anderson expects to see many first-time operagoers coming from the blue-collar neighborhoods that surround Temple.

So far, there are two high schools and seventeen colleges and universities signed up for these live broadcasts on Sunday, September 23. Domingo, who is not computer savvy because he says he has so many other things to study, says nothing can replace the experience of hearing and seeing opera live, but the simulcast is the next best way.

He and WNO President Kenneth Feinberg, who promoted simulcasts to the schools, are in agreement that everything must be done now to bring young people to the opera. The skinny on the street is that so far, the September 23 event that includes broadcasts to the schools, the Washington Monument grounds, the American Film Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland, and a theater in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia will cost WNO a half million dollars. Feinberg says this is money worth spending because it is an investment in the future of opera. Of course Feinberg also hopes that this event will bring new patrons to WNO, an opera company that is producing world-class opera performances.


When asked if La Bohème which is being directed by the acclaimed Polish director Mariusz Trelinski will interest the youth of America typically associated with rap music and computers, Domingo said the Trelinski’s updated production situates the characters in much the same way as students experience their lives today and emphasizes the search for identity and connection to the world they must enter.

The Dresser thinks that if Tulane University, an institution struggling like the rest of New Orleans to rebuild what it had before Hurricane Katrina, is participating in the WNO program and it also sent Carolyn Barber-Pierre, Assistant Vice President Director of Student Programs, as a delegate to the WNO news conference that what WNO is doing is as big a deal as putting an astronaut on the moon.


Comments (1)

Interesting new facet in education. Are they TV or radio simulcasts? Very good extension of existing theater.

Post a comment

Use this form to place a comment to a post in the blog. You must include a valid email address for spam protection. Please see our Privacy Policy for details on how your private information is used and protected. Your comment will be posted as soon as it is reviewed by the blog editor.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 23, 2007 4:04 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Ecstatic Tears for Jenufa.

The next post in this blog is Mark Adamo's Harp Concerto.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.