When you think of Opera in the 21st century, do you think of outdated styles of music and drama that constantly need reviving by clever Directors and Production Houses? Or maybe Opera for you today is about experimental work that has moved away from what you think of as ‘Opera’ - which started in Italy over 400 years ago? Many of these great operatic works of the 21st century continue to uphold the legacy of Opera. Nevertheless Opera often struggles for relevance. What if Opera had taken a different path in history and listened to the storytelling-through-song of non-European peoples around the globe that had pre-existed ‘Opera’? The epic tales of survival, conquests, love, leadership and new worlds as old as human habitation….Imagine stories that are over 60, 000 years old being told now in the living but ancient languages of these peoples. Well all this is possible - when you experience IndigeNOW!, the first annual festival of Indigenous Opera from Three Continents and Four Countries.
IndigeNOW! will bring together three renowned Indigenous writer / composers from Sweden, the United States and Australia to exchange ideas and workshop their original pieces. At the end of this process, several of these works will receive their first public workshop-performance, followed by an informal meet-and-greet reception with the artists. This process will give our composers the unique opportunity to develop their works through the rehearsal process and hear them sung out loud for the first time by professional performers in front of an audience. Audience members will not only hear the freshest new voices in opera, but will actually be able to guide the development of their work through their feedback.
As the centerpiece of this festival, we are proud to present a very special concert performance of Deborah Cheetham’s groundbreaking Pecan Summer, Australia’s first Indigenous opera- performed by members of the original cast. Not only does Pecan Summer, premiering in Australia in fall, 2010, feature a libretto and score written by an Indigenous Australian, it will be the first opera in Australia’s history to engage the talents of a classically trained Indigenous cast. We hope that Cheetham’s longstanding commitment to helping young Indigenous performers and musicians find their voice through the medium of opera and the extraordinary work that she and her ensemble have produced will serve as an inspiration to Indigenous composers and performers searching for ways to tell their own stories through this uniquely demanding and expressive medium.
As the centerpiece of this festival, we are proud to present a very special concert performance of Deborah Cheetham’s groundbreaking Pecan Summer, Australia’s first Indigenous opera - performed by members of the original cast, which was premiered in Australia in October 2010 to a sell-out house and standing ovation.
Please see the following links for media coverage in Australia:
Not only does Pecan Summer, feature a libretto and score written by an Indigenous Australian, it will be the first opera in Australia’s history to engage the talents of a classically trained Indigenous cast. We hope that Cheetham’s longstanding commitment to helping young Indigenous performers and musicians find their voice through the medium of opera and the extraordinary work that she and her ensemble have produced will serve as an inspiration to Indigenous composers and performers searching for ways to tell their own stories through this uniquely demanding and expressive medium.
This festival represents a critical first step in the development of these pieces. The objective is to develop these works into fully realized stage productions on the LA, New York and European stages and to find, inspire and nurture a new generation of Indigenous writers and composers around the world.
The focus of this festival and these workshops is the work itself, not the scenery, lights and costumes. As a result, performance budgets will be kept to a minimum. Based on travel costs, cast and creative fees, theatre space rental, promotional and administrative costs and other misc expenses we project a budget of $150,000 for the initial festival. Staffing would consist of a director, musical director and stage management team for the pieces being workshopped as well as an ensemble of local performers and the local production crew. In addition to the core producing ream, a handful of administrative and marketing staffers will be brought on board to ensure the smooth operation and effective promotion of the festival.
This festival represents a first and critical step not only in the development of new works and new voices but in the reinvention and re-invigoration of a classic art form for a new and changing world.
IndigeNOW! is presented in association with The Powerhouse Theatre Company - a non-profit theatre company dedicated to the use of theatre as an educational tool and committed to sharing the power of theatre with audiences young and old, presenting the finest quality programming possible.
Indigenous Composer Participants
- Brent Michael Davids (USA)
- Tomson Highway (Canada)
- Harriet Nordlund (Sami, Sweden)
- Deborah Cheetham (Australia)
Executive Producer Gordon Bronitsky, PhD - founder/president of Bronitsky and Associates. (www.bronitskyandassociates.com), with offices in New Mexico and Germany. Bronitsky and Associates specializes in working with Indigenous talent around the world in international cultural marketing of traditional AND contemporary art, music, dance; fashion; film/video; photography; theater; and speakers and writers (Native languages and English). The firm also works with Indigenous communities in festival development as an integral part of economic development across sectoral boundaries.
Bronitsky and Associates produced ORIGINS: First Nations Festival™ in May, 2009, which brought Indigenous theater companies and performers from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to theaters and venues all across London (www.originsfestival.com).
Festival Director Eric Sims - has produced over 80 shows and events in Los Angeles- including the smash-hit engagement of A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, the 25th Annual L.A. Weekly Theatre Awards and the world-premiere interactive production of The Boomerang Kid, in which audiences used wireless devices to vote on the choices made by the main characters. In his capacity as Interactive Production Manager at Center Theatre Group he helped craft marketing strategies for productions as diverse as A Chorus Line and Avenue Q at the Ahmanson Theatre and the world-premieres of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. He is currently the Operations Manager for the Kirk Douglas Theatre, where he oversees all business, facility, and front-of-house operations.
Associate Producer Pamela Karantonis, PhD is a trained opera singer and theater professor in the United Kingdom. Along with her Canadian colleague Dr Dylan Robinson, she organized the first international conference on opera and First Nations in London in 2008 and has edited a book by the same title which was published in March 2011: Opera Indigene - Re/presenting First Nations and Indigenous Cultures. She has been a guest speaker on opera and experimental music theater on a number of occasions, including at Oxford University and the University of Amsterdam. She is now convenor-elect of the Music Theatre Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research. This year, Pamela hopes to present papers to opera and music theater colleagues in Utrecht and Osaka. She also conducts workshops on voice and performance-making and has enjoyed participating in a number or projects with the Welsh National Opera over the past three years.
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