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Opera "Fusion" in Cincinnati

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Nov 15, 2007 - 12:00:00 AM in news_2007

CCM graduate Corey Crider as Hermann in Cincinnati Opera's "The Tales of Hoffmann" in 2006 (CCM student Christopher Scott, a member of the chorus, in the background). Photo by Philip Groshong for Cincinnati Opera

   Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music have entered into a partnership agreement with all the right chemistry.
   Called the Corbett Foundation Opera Fusion Program and funded by a “generous grant” from The Corbett Foundation, the three-year venture will bring the nation’s second oldest opera company and CCM into an even closer relationship than they have enjoyed over the years.
   (The opera was founded in 1920 by Ralph Lyford, head of the opera department at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, one of CCM’s progenitors.)
   The fusion agreement, which is being announced tonight [Thursday Nov. 15] at a 2008 season preview “Opera Rap” by Cincinnati Opera artistic director Evans Mirageas at CET Studios, will include collaborative academic programming, enhanced young artist and internship opportunities for CCM students during Cincinnati Opera’s summer festival and an annual opera production at CCM
   The first CCM production, Mexican composer Daniel Catan’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter” (1991), will be May 30, 31 and June 1 in Cohen Family Studio Theater at CCM.  Catan, whose 1996 “Florencia en el Amazonas” will performed by Cincinnati Opera July 10 and 12 at Music Hall, will present master classes at CCM and participate in the coaching of the work.
   “For us, it is the continuation of a very special relationship,” said opera general director Patty Beggs.  “CCM already has in place a superb program for training young singers and people interested in the performing arts.  We will be able to highlight or amplify that in any way that’s good for them by offering the services of a professional opera company.”  Over 30 CCM students were involved with Cincinnati Opera “in one capacity or another last year,” she said.
   Mirageas and Cincinnati Opera’s director of artistic operations Marcus Küchle will present master classes at CCM, “everything from how to audition to making available to CCM the artists we have here when they come in,” Beggs said.  Cincinnati Opera paid the cost of transcribing Catan’s “Rappaccini” score for a reduced ensemble of two pianos and percussion so it will fit in the “black box” Cohen Theater, she said.
   The program will “create more performing opportunities for our opera students,” said CCM interim dean Warren George, “and just in general, it’s good to see continued collaboration with various arts organizations in the city.  We’ve got a pretty good relationship with Cincinnati Ballet now, and we’re improving our relations with the Cincinnati Symphony.”
   “It means we will gain exposure to an echelon of living composers that we have perhaps not necessarily had access to in the past,” said Terrell Finney, head of the division of Opera, Musical Theater, Drama and Arts Administration at CCM.   The double collaboration with Catan “is a good prototype for the kinds of shared experiences that we’re hoping to see more of in the future.  It means that both organizations will be looking at choices of repertoire and ways in which this relationship can enhance both of our programs.”   
   “Rappaccini’s Daughter” is a two-act Spanish language opera based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story about a science experiment and the struggle between good and evil.  Both it and “Florencia en el Amazonas” (based on Gabriel Marcia Marquez’ “Love in a Time of Cholera”) are very “Puccini-esque, rich-textured and show a wonderful melodic gift,” said opera department interim chair Kelly Hale.   
   The partnership agreement is for three years to enable incoming CCM leaders to participate in working out future details.
   It is especially fitting that the Corbett Foundation is sponsor of the Fusion Program, said Beggs.  “It brings together two of their loves, Cincinnati Opera and CCM.  They’ve been supportive of all of our efforts over the years, so they were delighted.”
   “Mrs. Corbett and the trustees of the foundation have long dreamed that Cincinnati Opera and CCM, two of the brightest jewels in our city, might work together to mutually benefit from their strength and resources,” said Corbett Foundation executive director Karen McKim.  “Happily, the Corbett Foundation Opera Fusion Program creates, through those institutions, a robust collaboration that will resonate in Cincinnati and throughout the opera world.”