Opera Philadelphia wants you to do away with the notion that opera must be expensive and internet-proof.
As part of Women’s History Month programming, Opera Philadelphia will release a free audio stream on Soundcloud of the contemporary American opera Breaking the Waves on Wednesday, March 29, accompanied by an Instagram and Twitter takeover by composer Missy Mazzoli on inspirational women in opera history. This, plus more discussions by women in opera, is sponsored by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Breaking the Waves, which debuted last year at Opera Philadelphia, is adapted from a 1996 film of the same title by Lars von Trier. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s the story of “a religious young woman” whose husband becomes paralyzed and encourages her to find other lovers and tell him about them. Opera Philadelphia’s stream include commentary from Mazzoli, librettist Royce Vavrek, director James Darrah and Opera Philadelphia’s Vice President of Community Initiatives Michael Bolton.
Aubrey Nagle, Communications Manager of Opera Philadelphia, said that “Opera Philadelphia is always looking for ways to expand our reach and increase the accessibility of opera to all members of our community … Providing a free audio stream is another way to do that, to break down barriers of entry to this art form.”
Breaking down barriers was also a founding idea behind programs like Sounds of Learning, in which middle school and high school students attend operas for free, and the annual free Opera on the Mall broadcast at Independence Mall, which once featured a cell phone-powered “thunderstorm.” Not to mention how the opera company launched an online course to coincide with the launch of Cold Mountain last year.
According to Nagle, opera broadcasts have a long history dating back to the rise of public radio — online streaming is simply its newest iteration. Last year, Opera Philadelphia broadcast the 2015 premiere of Yardbird. Nagle hopes that Breaking the Waves will have similar success in its second form: “By distributing this live recording of Breaking the Waves to our fans – those who were able to see a performance during last fall’s World Premiere run or its New York debut in January, or those who weren’t able to attend – we’re continuing that tradition, and providing a new way to experience or rediscover the work.”
Opera Philadelphia has even taken cues from binge watching: the habit influenced the development of its 12-day O17 opera festival in September. Nagle emphasized Opera Philadelphia’s commitment to the audience, whether immediate or remote.
“It’s important [for us] to meet our fans where they’re at,” she said.