Opera News: Innovation Plays Role In Triumphant Season

Central City Opera's Carmen

In a recent article, Opera News highlighted the role of innovation in Central City Opera‘s extraordinary season this past summer:

Central City Opera has a respected history of presenting notable premieres and rediscovered rarities, but this past summer’s season surely ranks among the most adventuresome and riskiest in its seventy-nine-year history. Because financial pressures and audience demand dictate such an inclusion, it opened with Carmen, a sales-guaranteed warhorse. But the commonplace ended there. The company’s two other productions were anything but standard.

About innovation, they add:

Drawing in part on an in-depth innovation study the company undertook in 2010, he decided that the way to boost attendance and draw new audiences was to go for the unexpected. Along with daring repertory, the company packaged its triple bill in an unusual mix-and-match way, presenting the works over two days (the entire lineup was presented just twice in one evening) and selling tickets to each one-act individually. It also tried to inject more festival into its opera festival by presenting a slate of new ancillary activities, including a chamber-music series.

The lingo is a little off, since the innovation work was not a “study” but rather an 8 month process where Richard Evans of EmcArts facilitated a cross-departmental team in routing out their old assumptions and trying out new ways of working through small experiments, like the ancillary festivalization activities, chamber-music series, and individual one acts. (Supported by the Bonfils Stanton Foundation).

That aside, it’s exciting to read about all the new things happening at CCO in Opera News and to see the role of innovation highlighted as an essential part of a season that excelled artistically and organizationally.

Karina Mangu-Ward is the former Director of Strategic Initiatives at EmcArts.