Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rise of the Small Opera Company, Part Three: Opera On Tap

What year was your company founded and by whom?
Opera on Tap (OOT) was born in 2005 at Freddy’s Bar and Backroom in Brooklyn and incorporated in 2007. It was founded by three opera singers, Anne Hiatt, Carla Fisk, and Jessica Miller Rauch.

What began as a small monthly gathering of ambitious, classically trained singers looking for more performance opportunities, has grown into a producing organization that has gained a loyal audience base and national recognition as an innovative force on the classical music scene. Through its Chapter program, which now has sixteen vibrant national chapters, OOT has created a large network of performers, creators, and supporters.

What is the mission of your company?
Our mission is to:
  • Expose new audiences to opera and classical music by taking opera and classical music out of the concert hall and performing it in alternative venues.
  • To aid young performers in their development by giving them the opportunity to perform, and to promote and support them through our organization.
  • To help promote new classical works of contemporary classical and operatic composers
Who makes up your creative team and staff? What are their backgrounds?
Opera on Tap is run almost entirely by singers who believe in Opera on Tap’s mission. Executive and Artistic diva Anne Hiatt runs the New York chapter and oversees the national organization. Each chapter organization is run independently by one or two singer-administrators.

What do you see as being your most important contribution to the opera industry? 
Our biggest contribution to the industry is that we open people’s eyes and ears to the fact that opera isn’t elitist or stuffy. Opera is relatable and exciting, especially when it’s performed mere feet away. We pride ourselves on the fact that we reach an audience that often has never been to an opera performance before.

What kind of opera do you produce? Describe your opera productions.  
We produce opera that is fun, irreverent, and engaging. Mostly our chapters perform opera concerts, but some have performed full operas. 

Opera on Tap has started a commissioning series called the Roadworks Series which produces modern, immersive, and affecting new operas and supports up and coming local composers. Each production is intended to be presented in the kind of intimate alternative spaces that we frequent. Operas are premiered in New York and then toured to various OOT chapters across the country.

Our first commission, SMASHED: The Carrie Nation Story by James Barry, is less than an hour long, hilarious, and mostly about beer. It premiered in 2013 and just received its third production at the New York International Fringe Festival this summer.
What kind of performers do you look for in casting?
We look for performers who are first and foremost strong singers. We also look for artists who are dynamic performers, willing to take risks, able to work a room and not above singing in a dive-bar. Our roster is made up of a diverse group of talented singers who are starting to develop their careers.
Do you feel like you are reaching a new audience? Is it growing? What is the audience response?
We do feel that we are reaching an audience beyond the usual suspects. Our audiences are a mixed bunch (and it depends on the location): Some audience members are already opera lovers who come for the intimate experience Opera on Tap offers and others are people who don’t know a thing about opera but are curious about the sounds coming from our performance spaces. We’ve found that the audience response overall is very enthusiastic.
Do you think opera is dying? 
We think Opera is evolving, not dying.

For more information on Opera On Tap visit their website: http://www.operaontap.org/