Opera Memphis in National Spotlight during this year’s 30 Days of Opera events
Since its inception, #30DaysofOpera has been turning the opera house inside out to bring free professional opera performances to men, women, and children all over Memphis and the Mid-South - people who may otherwise never get to experience a live opera performance because of financial limitations, geographic restrictions, or time constraints. We dedicate the entire month of September to put the "grit and grind" into opera, and go to where our audiences live, work, and play in order to serve the Memphis community and make our city a little brighter with the power of opera.
This year, 30 Days of Opera puts Memphis and the Mid-South on the national stage with dozens of free opera performances, the OPERA America Civic Action Regional Meeting, and the Opera & Race Symposium hosted by Rhodes College and Opera Memphis. This year will include performances at iconic locations like the Cooper-Young Festival, Germantown Festival, Memphis Pride Festival, and many more! Back by popular demand, Opera Memphis will perform at the Levitt Shell on Friday, September 13 as part of the Orion Free Music Concert Series in Overton Park. To top it all off, this year’s 30 Days of Opera will feature a photo contest open to the public for a chance to win free tickets, a swag bag, and more from Opera Memphis. For event locations and dates, and information about the photo contest, CLICK HERE or follow Opera Memphis on Facebook @Operamemphis.
30 Days of Opera began in 2012 as part of the 60-year-old company’s mission to serve the entire city. “When I got here in 2011, it was clear we needed to do something big,” says General Director Ned Canty. “There were people who didn’t even know the city had an opera company, and thousands of folks who knew and were interested, but had no way to get to our venues. We had to completely reinvent the way we thought of our performances to ensure we were an active participant in the exciting growth throughout the city.” This initiative to bring opera to people who otherwise might never experience it was an instant hit and garnered such renown that dozens of opera companies across the country are adopting the same program model. To date, almost 500,000 people have experienced opera in hundreds of performances in almost every zip code in Memphis, and the numbers keep growing!
A new aspect to 30 Days of Opera this year is a social media photo contest. “In years past, we’ve used social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to show the public what 30 Days looks like from Opera Memphis’s perspective,” says Communications Coordinator Jillian Barron. “This year, we want to see what 30 Days looks like from the public’s eye. We’ll be holding a photo contest for the whole month of September.” The photographer of the winning photo will not only receive two tickets to their choice of 2019-20 season Opera Memphis performance and an awesome Opera Memphis swag bag, they will also have their photo featured on the Opera Memphis website and social media platforms. A full description of how to enter and the rules can be found HERE.
Another new-ish part of 30 Days of Opera are the mystery pop-up events. "We've had people in the past express how much they miss the surprise factor of 30 Days - having singers popping up around town completely unexpected!" says Barron. "So, in keeping with the original spirit of the program, we've brought back the mystery pop-up events. We'll be keeping the locations a secret until the day of the event when we will announce where are artists can be found around town." To catch these exclusive announcements, follow Opera Memphis on Facebook or, on the day of the event, call the Opera Memphis Box Office at 901.257.3100.
In keeping with that same mission to be an active participant in the city, Opera Memphis has partnered with Rhodes College this year to host an academic and performance symposium - Opera & Race: Celebrating the Past, Building the Future - focusing on the role of race, both on and off the stage. This two day series will include a concert by Opera Memphis and lectures from guest speakers Anh Le (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis), Givonna Joseph (Founder and Director of OperaCréole), and Dr. Naomi André (Professor at the University of Michigan, author of Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement [pictured above]).
The Opening Concert on Thursday, Sept. 12 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 (pictured above), and a solo performance by Marcus King of Margaret Bond’s Three Dream Portraits. This concert - as well as all Symposium events - is free and open to the public. A full schedule of Symposium events, lectures, and panels can be found HERE.
30 Days of Opera has garnered Opera Memphis national recognition for its civic impact and outreach initiative. It’s only fitting that Memphis serves as the meeting ground of opera company representatives from across the nation for OPERA America’s Civic Action Regional Meeting. Men and women from across the United States will gather together here in Memphis, TN to look at opera as a tool for civic action, successful community engagement programs, and future programming and practices.
For more information about all Opera Memphis events happening Sept. 1 - 30, please visit www.operamemphis.org/30daysofopera or call 901.257.3100.