Opera Theatre of Saint Louis further expands its offerings during the 2017 season through a series of programs designed to include St. Louis audiences of all generations. These programs continue OTSL’s mission to shape the future of opera and to connect diverse audiences through its power and beauty.
During the 2016 season, OTSL previously reported growth of 11% among Millennial audiences, 24% among Gen X audiences, and 28% among ethnically diverse audiences. Through growth in pre-season events such as Opera Tastings and Meet the Makers, and additional in-season opportunities such as Kids’ Club, Young Friends matinees, TGIF Opera, and College Flex Passes, Opera Theatre strives to continue this growth during 2017, building an audience for opera in St. Louis that reflects the greater St. Louis community.
“Along with nurturing the next generation of opera artists, Opera Theatre is committed to building the diverse opera audience of the future,” said OTSL General Director Timothy O’Leary. “I am thankful for our great team — from our staff, our Young Friends Steering Committee, our Engagement and Inclusion Task Force, our Board of Directors, and our Guild Board. They have all made these new events possible. We are thrilled that our recent success in building audiences helps make it possible to create even more new points of entry into opera.”
The 2017 Festival Season begins on Saturday, May 20 with the opening of Puccini’s iconic Madame Butterfly at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves. Before the season begins, Opera Theatre offers the following events to connect members of the community with the art form of opera and the artists who make it possible at OTSL:
- The Grapes of Wrath Meet the Makers Community Tour | March 16-24 and May 1-3
Since 2012, Opera Theatre has engaged main season artists to participate in special events in support of unique productions in the season. Past tours have featured composers Terence Blanchard, Jack Perla, and Ricky Ian Gordon, librettists Rajiv Joseph and Royce Vavrek, director and designer Isaac Mizrahi, and singers Kendall Gladen and Aubrey Allicock. In 2017, Opera Theatre expands this series to include two separate tours, one in March and one in May, including the creators of The Grapes of Wrath, Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie. More details on each event can be found at ExperienceOpera.org/Creators:
- March 16 at 7:30 p.m. – A film screening of John Ford’s 1940 adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath as part of the Webster University Film Series
- March 22 at 6 p.m. – The Music of Ricky Ian Gordon at the St. Louis Jewish Community Center, featuring a string quartet from the Gesher Music Festival
- March 23 at 7 p.m. – The Grapes of Wrath and the American Dream at the Missouri History Museum, featuring a panel of experts who will look at the adaptation of Steinbeck’s classic American novel for both the stage and screen
- March 24 at 5:30 p.m. – A Young Professionals Cocktail Hour at the St. Louis Fashion Fund Incubator featuring remarks from the composer
- May 1 at 7:30 p.m. – Spotlight on Opera at the Ethical Society, featuring a panel discussion and excerpts of music from The Grapes of Wrath
- May 2 at 2 p.m. – A film screening of John Ford’s 1940 adaptation of The Grapes of Wrathat the Missouri History Museum
- May 3 at 7 p.m. – Creators in Conversation at the St. Louis Public Library Central Library featuring a dialogue between Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie
- Illuminating Opera | April 6 – 29
This lecture series is offered on Thursday and Saturday mornings at 9:45 a.m. and offers a deep analysis of the music in each opera, plus background on its composition. Amy Kaiser, the Director of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, leads each 90-minute talk. Tickets are $20 per session. A subscription to all four Thursday or Saturday sessions can be purchased for $72. More details are available at ExperienceOpera.org/Illuminating.
- Opera Tastings presented by PNC Arts Alive | April 18 – 23
Participation in this “culinary concert” series, developed in partnership with chefs and sommeliers across the St. Louis region, has doubled each year since it was inaugurated in 2015. At a 90-minute event, audiences are led through music from across the history of opera through live performances from current and recent OTSL young artists. With each aria, duet, or trio, a food or beverage pairing designed to enhance the flavors of the music is presented. OTSL’s January installment of this popular program sold at 98% capacity, with most events sold out. Spring venues and dates are as follows:
- April 18, 7 p.m. – Balaban’s in Chesterfield, Missouri
- April 19, 7 p.m. – Cleveland-Heath in Edwardsville, Illinois
- April 21, 7 p.m. – SqWires in Lafayette Square, St. Louis
- April 22, 7 p.m. – Omega Center in North City, St. Louis
- April 23, 3 p.m. – Catering by Vicia at @4240 in the Cortex District, St. Louis
During the season, Opera Theatre has also expanded its offerings to create a more welcoming environment in the Opera Theatre gardens for audiences of all ages, while breaking down practical barriers of price and (in the case of young parents) childcare. Details on these programs are below:
- Kids’ Club | June 3, 10, 17, 24
Through support from OPERA America’s Building Opera Audiences grant program, Opera Theatre launches this new initiative during the 2017 Festival Season, providing an afternoon of opera-themed games and activities for children ages 3-12 at every Saturday matinee performance. The program, available to any patron who has purchased tickets to the matinee performance, is led by licensed child care professionals from Webster Child Care and OTSL teaching artists from Opera Camp. Patrons can add Kids’ Club for $20 per child. Learn more at ExperienceOpera.org/KidsClub.
- Young Friends Matinees | June 3, 24
Opera Theatre’s Young Friends program now welcomes over 600 young professionals to the opera each year. In response to high demand, for the 2017 Festival Season, Opera Theatre is expanding from offering one Young Friends event for each of its four main season productions and the annualCenter Stage concert to offering two additional Saturday matinee events, at Madame Butterfly andTitus (La clemenza di Tito). $49 all-inclusive tickets are available for these events, which include a seat at the opera and a pre-show reception in a reserved tent with an open bar. Evening events include a dinner buffet; the new matinee events will include a brunch buffet with a Bloody Mary bar.“Pick Two…Or More” Passes are available for Young Friends who want to see multiple productions for even deeper savings. Young professionals with children can utilize the Kids’ Clubprogram so that their children can participate in an opera experience while parents enjoy the party and the matinee. (Evening Young Friends events are offered during the 2017 Festival Season on May 20, 31, June 8, 18, and 20.)
- Teen Matinee | June 17
In the spirit of Young Friends, Opera Theatre’s Opera Teens group now offers a pre-show party in the gardens in conjunction with one performance during the 2017 Festival Season – the Saturdaymatinee of The Grapes of Wrath. A $25 all-inclusive ticket includes a lunch buffet and pre-show remarks from other teens about the opera. Members of the cast visit the teens after the performance for an informal Q&A.
- TGIF Opera | May 26, June 9, 16, 23
At every Friday evening performance during the 2017 Festival Season, the OTSL gardens will light up with a special party to kick off the weekend, featuring live music, bonus food and drink service, and fun photo opportunities. Musicians from St. Louis Osuwa Taiko join the gardens for Japanese drumming after Madame Butterfly (May 26), the folk band The Moore Brothers play after The Grapes of Wrath (June 9), the Cardinal Quartet string quartet appears after Titus (June 16), and pianist Lachlan Glen plays works by Philip Glass after The Trial (June 23).
- College Flex Passes
This new program makes it even easier for college students to discover great opera, with a $50 flex pass that can be redeemed for four tickets in any combination during the 2017 Festival Season. Passes can be redeemed at all performances but Saturday and Sunday evenings. Valid student ID is required to pick up the pass and to redeem the pass towards main season tickets.
Opera Theatre’s 2017 Festival Season runs from May 20 – June 25, and features Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, the American premiere of Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton’s The Trial, the premiere of a new performing version of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s The Grapes of Wrath, Mozart’s Titus (La clemenza di Tito), and the annual Center Stage showcase concert by Gerdine Young Artists. Subscriptions for the 2017 Festival Season are now available, with single tickets on sale now. For more information, visit ExperienceOpera.org or call the box office at (314) 961-0644. V
Via Press Release
About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American opera companies, known for a spring festival of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony. As of its 2016 Festival Season, Opera Theatre has presented 25 world premieres and 26 American premieres — which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company. Described by the Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis annually welcomes visitors from nearly every state and close to a dozen foreign countries. Although the size of the theater typically limits box office income to less than a quarter of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.
Opera Theatre also has a long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest operatic artists of the current generation. Among the artists who had important early opportunities at Opera Theatre are Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Matthew Polenzani, Sylvia McNair, Erie Mills, Dwayne Croft, Kelly Kaduce, and Lawrence Brownlee. Opera Theatre has always been known for distinguished leadership: founding general director Richard Gaddes was succeeded in 1985 by general director Charles MacKay, with famed British stage director Colin Graham as artistic director and Stephen Lord (1992 – present) as music director. Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding the late Colin Graham.