Spring has definitely sprung down here in Houston; everything that looked dead just a few weeks ago is sprouting all kinds of new growth. And that goes for opera as well, seeing that this year’s iteration of Opera Vista begins this Saturday, March 20th, and runs through March 27th.
Opera Vista focuses on bringing contemporary opera to Houston and the Vista Competition is an international search for ground-breaking new works by modern composers.
“The Vista Competition is unique in that it gives composers the opportunity to have their works performed by professional singers and instrumentalists,” says Viswa Subbaraman, OV‘s Artistic Director. “They have a wonderful opportunity to interact with many well-known people from the world of opera and classical music, but I think more importantly, they get an insight into how their work is perceived by the audience.”
In October, six semi-finalists (Lembit Beecher, Katarzyna Brochocka, Alberto García Demestres, Joseph Eidson, Jonathan N. Kupper, Catherine Reid) from three countries were selected, ranging from adaptations of a Japanese folk tale to a horror opera. Excerpts from each work will be performed on March 24th & 26th at the Czech Center Museum Houston (4920 San Jacinto, at Wichita), each night beginning at 7:30pm. A panel of judges, including world-renowned composer Daron Hagen (There will be an evening of chamber music composed by Hagen at 7:30pm on March 25th at the Czech Center) and Leslie Dunner of the Joffrey Ballet, will critique each excerpt, and the audience will vote to select which operas will advance. In the final round the winning excerpts will be performed again with a longer critique from the judges, but then the audience will get to directly question the composers. The audience then votes to determine the winner of the competition, which will be announced March 27th at the festival’s closing performance. The winner receives $1,500 and a full production of their opera at the next festival.
This year’s festival will also include the world premiere of the winning opera from the 2009 Opera Vista Festival, Anorexia Sacra by Line Tjørnhøj. Line couples the plight of a young woman suffering from anorexia with the writings of the 13th century nun Claire of Assisi. Anorexia Sacra will be performed at 7:30pm on March 20th and 27th at the Live Oak Friends Meetinghouse (1318 West 26th Street).
There’s also a bit of meet-and-greet with all the composers on March 23rd, 6-8pm, at Momentum Audi (2315 Richmond Avenue).