published Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Chattanooga Symphony &amp Opera announces two future shows

One year after announcing it would be suspending opera productions due to budget issues, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera today announced two future shows that are part of plan to bring opera back, though not right away.

On Feb. 6, the CSO will present “The Opera Show,” an internationally acclaimed touring production that will be a fundraiser for the newly created CSO Opera Fund, according to Executive Director Molly Sasse. In addition, beginning in November of 2010, the CSO will collaborate on a yearly basis with The Chattanooga Ballet and the Chattanooga Theatre Centre to present “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”

“‘The Opera Show’ is an amazing production featuring four singers, five dancers, and eight costumed musicians,” Mrs. Sasse said. “This touring production looks like opera’s greatest hits meets Cirque de Soleil. It has incredibly elaborate costumes and staging and includes about 30 of everyone’s favorite arias.”

The show features elaborate costumes, dance, staging and arias, she said.

Mrs. Sasse said that half of each ticket, ranging from $50 to $500, for “The Opera Show” is a tax-deductible donation to the new Opera Fund.

“We realized during this past year that we could not afford to present opera in the manner which we had done for so many years without a substantial reserve before we even began to plan another production,” Mrs. Sasse said. “Our goal is to raise $100,000 so that we can announce our next grand opera production. The Opera Show looked to us like a great vehicle to start the new CSO Opera Fund.”

“Since the decision was made by our board one year ago to suspend opera productions for the current season, we’ve been exploring lots of options to bring opera back to the CSO stage,” Mrs. Sasse said.

“Over the past year, opera patrons have come together to share possible solutions to keeping opera alive and well in Chattanooga. From collaborations with regional opera companies to the Opera in Cinema series at the Rave movie theatre, many possible solutions to keeping opera in Chattanooga have been explored.

Mrs. Sasse said that the gap between what opera costs and what the CSO could generate through ticket sales, “even with sell-outs and top ticket prices of $87, is about $100,000. That’s why we’re launching the Opera Fund—when we raise that much, we’ll put on another grand opera.”

Chattanooga Ballet General Director Bob Willie said his group is happy to again be partnering with the CSO.

“Opera is the most complex and most beautiful of the performing arts forms as it encompasses symphonic music, voice, dance, and theatre,” Mr. Willie said.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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Though this is good news for opera productions....it still doesn't help the situation for the orchestra itself. The symphony has made cuts in staff and pay cuts to the musicians. While they are raising money to promote two opera performances a year, they're not giving money back to the artists which they made cuts to who perform continuously throughout the season. Yes, do what you can to promote opera but the entire orchestra shouldn't have to suffer for two opera productions. Focus on your core and make it strong and once you have that solid foundation then elaborate performances can be considered. I don't think opera would be nearly as rewarding if you were listening to arias backed up by a recording as opposed to a live orchestra. If the company can't raise money to support the artists, then opera, as well as any elaborate productions, should take a side seat until a time which their core, the musicians, aren't suffering.

November 13, 2009 at 11:40 a.m.
gwbled said...

And tickets for $50.00-$500.00 is not drawing myself or my friends. I hope that the Amahl production is live and reasonably priced. For families and encouraging new concertgoers there has to be some other option to build a base to return opera to Chattanooga. And if the future of opera is canned performances that is particularly discouraging.

November 16, 2009 at 9:07 p.m.
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