Jordan Wells lights up a camel at a past 30 Days of Opera event at the West Tennessee State Fair.
It's safe to say now that 30 Days of Opera has become a tradition. The monthlong multi-event held by Opera Memphis has been around since 2012, put in place by the organization's general director Ned Canty. The idea is to bring opera to the people with a series of appearances around the area, from concerts at the Levitt Shell to random pop-up performances at busy intersections, farmers markets, dog parks, or anywhere that people may gather.
It's been growing in size and scope since its start, and Opera Memphis says that to date, almost 500,000 people have experienced opera in hundreds of performances in almost every ZIP code in Memphis. It's gotten big boosts from the National Endowment for the Arts
, which has given Opera Memphis annual grants for its programs the past five years. Opera Memphis has received 63 grants totaling $377,000 since FY2012.
Nikola Printz with 30 Days of Opera at Overton Square in 2017.
This year will again have music every day of September, including a return to the Levitt Shell where Opera Memphis will perform as part of the Orion Free Music Concert Series in Overton Park on September 13th.
Sandwiched between performances are a couple of related events. Representatives from opera companies nationwide will gather for OPERA America’s Civic Action Regional Meeting September 11th and 12th. OPERA America is an advocacy group, and the meeting and workshops in Memphis will look at how opera can serve as a tool for civic action, successful community engagement programs, and future programming and practices.
There will also be a symposium on opera and race hosted by Rhodes College and Opera Memphis. The academic and performance event — Opera & Race: Celebrating the Past, Building the Future — puts a spotlight on the role of race on and off the stage. The two-day series is September 12th and 13th and will include a concert by Opera Memphis on the 12th and lectures from guest speakers on the 13th. They are:
- Naomi André, associate professor at the University of Michigan, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Women’s Studies, and author of Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement
- Giovanna Joseph, mezzo-soprano and founder and director of the award-winning OperaCréole
- Anh Le, director of marketing and public relations at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
The opening concert of the symposium on September 12th celebrates the music of lost or rarely performed composers of African descent. It will include excerpts of Jonestown
, an opera by Dr. Evan Williams of Rhodes College, performed by Opera Memphis, a featured performance by Carami Hilaire, and a solo performance by Marcus King of Margaret Bond’s Three Dream Portraits
. All symposium events are free and open to the public. A full schedule of events, lectures, and panels can be found here
This year’s 30 Days of Opera will feature a photo contest open to the public for a chance to win prizes. Attendees to any of the 30 Days events can tag Opera Memphis using the #30daysofopera hashtag on their posted photos for a chance to win two tickets, a swag bag, and more.
For event locations and dates, and information about the photo contest, go here
or follow Opera Memphis on Facebook @Operamemphis.
For more information about all Opera Memphis events go here
or call 901-257-3100.