Morrison and Whitener – along with Kristin Martining, HERE’s artistic director, who was among the founders of the prototype and leads it today with Morrison, and Jekka Barrie, a former director who was on the curatorial team of the 2023 edition – formed a group Calling discussions on the past and present of the prototype in the video. Here are edited excerpts of the conversation.
Over the past decade, what kind of impact have you seen prototyping have on the industry?
jekka barrie We’ve seen, across the country, other opera companies that have started their own festivals or explored the idea of other stages – other venues, such as black box theatres. The first partnership we did with the Los Angeles Opera was “Dog Days” and that was red Cat [a 200-seat theater], The LA Opera told us that 70 percent of the visiting audience had never set foot in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion [the company’s much-larger home], it’s really about creating a completely different audience, and really, it’s So Opera is important to companies these days.
Kristin Martin It is about both form and content. I feel like the festival spans this spectrum of work. There’s a crossover thing happening, and it’s because a lot of the artists we’re working with aren’t trying to stay within limits. Then the other thing about content: I feel like what we’re really interested in is socially relevant work that resonates with people — a whole range of people, told by a whole range of voices. Went. I think this is also something the industry is happily incorporating after being monochromatic for so long.
How would you say New York’s cultural landscape changed over the course of Prototype’s history, and what does that mean for the festival’s mission?
Beth Morrison It’s nearly impossible right now to get opera shows at any venue in the city. With Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Metropolitan Opera is doing new work, finally, but there’s a whole host of works that are being created for smaller stages and other kinds of stages that the big presenters aren’t doing here. And for a company like ours, which does not have a place to perform, it is very difficult. Our stuff used to be at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and he’s completely moved. Lincoln Center is not doing opera. The shed isn’t doing it. This means we can only get our stuff in at our festival if we present it ourselves, and I think that’s a real shame.
Barry There are creative impulses. I mean, it’s incredible how many young composers want to write their first opera right out of the gate.
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