A Perfect Partnership

Texas' premier opera companies come together to help the art form survive

Texas' premier opera companies come together to help art form survive

Fort Worth Opera Festival presents Cruzar la Cara de la Luna
Fort Worth Opera's reach is about to get a lot wider. Photo by Tim Trumble, Arizona Opera

Five Texas opera companies have joined forces to help survive the coronavirus pandemic. Fort Worth Opera, The Dallas Opera, Austin Opera, OPERA San Antonio, and Houston Grand Opera have created the Texas Opera Alliance, with the goal of protecting and advancing the art form.

Through innovative production partnerships, audience-building initiatives, and collaborative investments in new works, the hope is that the TOA will ensure that opera continues to thrive in the Lone Star State.

"Texas is famous for being big with grand ideas, and that's what I love most about this idea," says Houston Grand Opera artistic and music director Patrick Summers. "I'm proud of our collaborative projects already in development, and I'm so looking forward to continuing this work with our Texan colleagues."

In its first year, in addition to each organization implementing its own unique promotional initiatives, TOA will cross promote digital content and programming while creating unique touchpoints with audience members from all five organizations. In addition to streaming video content, TOA will provide member companies access to an array of publications and online resources, webinars, and supplementary programming. Through this cross promotion, the organizations' digital content will have a larger reach.

Fort Worth Opera recently kicked off its historic 75th year with a digital initiative called FWO Green Room, a new site that features performances, seminars, masterclasses, a libretto workshop, and roundtable discussions with opera stars around the world.

Longtime opera supporters and Austin residents Sarah and Ernest Butler have been named for pledging $1 million to help underwrite HGO's and Austin Opera's digital programming.

"While it is not the season we had planned, it is exciting to see our organizations pushing the boundaries of the art form and bringing incredible opera to the screen," says HGO managing director Perryn Leech.

One upcoming collab is a digital production of David T. Little and Royce Vavrek's Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera, co-produced by HGO, Austin Opera, and OSA. It will be co-directed by OSA general director E. Loren Meeker (together with Ryan McKinny) and conducted by Austin Opera's principal conductor and artistic advisor Timothy Myers.

Mozart's The Impresario is another on the docket for HGO and OSA.

"I'm heartened and inspired by the unprecedented level of collaboration between our five companies in recent months," says Annie Burridge, general director and CEO of Austin Opera and vice-chair of OPERA America. "I believe these cost-effective strategies to expand our mutual offerings will serve as a new model for the growth and sustainability of our art form."

"This statewide alliance seems a natural and necessary next step toward championing artistic collaboration and cross-promotional opportunities," says Ian Derrer, The Dallas Opera's general director and CEO. "We look forward to sharing content from our popular TDO Network — viewed by more than 34 million people in 50 countries — as well as upcoming digital programs including reprised and original content as we work with our sister companies to elevate this astonishing art form."

"During this time in which our patrons are thirsting for quality engagement and access to the cultural stimulation that live theater and the arts provide, the collaborative efforts of TOA will allow us to expand our reach and deepen our connection to the community by leveraging the resources of our fellow sister companies," says Afton Battle, the newly appointed general director of FWO.

"We are moving into a new creative realm of what it means to experience opera. There is no ceiling to hold us back, only infinite possibilities."