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Opera For All Voices 2019 Updates

Opera For All Voices 2019 Updates

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Stories of our Time
Commissioned by a Consortium Led by The Santa Fe Opera including:

The Santa Fe Opera • Lyric Opera of Kansas City • Minnesota Opera

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis • San Francisco Opera • Sarasota Opera • Seattle Opera


Santa Fe, NM — The Santa Fe Opera’s Director of Community Engagement Andrea Fellows Walters today announced the latest updates for the Opera For All Voices: Stories of Our Time initiative. Opera for All Voices (OFAV) is a consortium of North American opera companies committed to co-commissioning and co-producing new operatic works for audiences of all ages that bear the same artistic integrity and depth of storytelling as mainstage works. The consortium shares a commitment to social impact and the representation of diverse voices through the development of new and important works.

The seven companies in the consortium — The Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Minnesota Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, San Francisco Opera, Sarasota Opera, and Seattle Opera — have together worked to commission new works flexible in both scope and scale, which can be performed in a variety of venues away from the mainstage. The teams behind the commissioned works were selected through an invitational process and adjudicated by a jury of twelve distinguished individuals in the field of opera.

The first commissioned work, Sweet Potato Kicks the Sunby composer Augusta Read Thomas and librettist Leslie Dunton-Downer, will receive its world premiere by the Santa Fe Opera on October 26, 2019 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in downtown Santa Fe. Fellows Walters today announced that soprano Amy Owens, a former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice, will be performing the title role of Sweet Potato. She also confirmed the creative team for the new work: Stage Director John de Los Santos, Music Director Carolyn Kuan, Assistant Music Director Conrad Chu, Scenic Designer Liliana Duque Piñeiro, Costume Designer Ashley Soliman, Lighting/Projection Designer Noelle Stollmack and Chorus Master Carmen Flórez-Mansi.

Defying a traditional synopsis, Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun is described by the composer/librettist team thus: “A celebrated Artist takes the stage to perform, and is alarmed to find that an opera is about to start in the same space. Before the mix-up can be sorted out, the opera begins. The dismayed Artist watches and reacts as the opera unfolds.” Renowned beatboxer and YouTube sensation Nicole Paris appears as a special guest artist in her Santa Fe Opera debut. Writes composer Augusta Read Thomas, “In the opera, Nicole, the special guest artist, beatboxes and sings. The other vocalists sing and, from time to time, develop a wide variety of vocalizations akin to beatboxing. As such, the opera organically unfolds a sound world where different musical traditions crisscross and are deeply integrated. I see opera as embracing diverse musical traditions, artists and audience members.”

The second commission, Hometown to the World by composer Laura Kaminsky and librettist Kimberly Reed, is slated to premiere at San Francisco Opera in November 2020. Hometown springs from the complex intersection of race, religion, ethnicity and culture that took place in Postville, Iowa, where America’s largest kosher meat-packing plant became the site of America’s largest workplace raid by the U.S. Immigration and Customs agency. The other group of immigrants in Postville, the heartland of America, are primarily German and Scandinavian farmers. The 2008 raid resulted in the arrest and deportation of approximately one quarter of Postville’s residents – most of them Guatemalan – decimating the community. In this intimate opera, three characters will depict the intersection of cultures in America’s heartland.

Finally, Fellows Walters announced that the first five episodes in Season 2 of Key Change, a podcast created as part of the Opera for All Voices initiative, are now available for streaming or download. Season 2 is composed of nine episodes, published weekly beginning April 10, 2019. All episodes in Season 2 will be available for streaming and download on June 5, 2019. The Key Change podcast explores the creation of new operas and their connection to our industry, our communities and our future.


The Santa Fe Opera wishes to thank the following for their wonderfully generous support of the Opera For All Voices initiative:

The Melville Hankins Family Foundation is the Principal Education Sponsor of The Santa Fe Opera

Made Possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


The mission of the Santa Fe Opera is to advance the operatic art form by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality in a unique setting with a varied repertory of new, rarely performed, and standard works; to ensure the excellence of opera’s future through apprentice programs for singers, technicians, and arts administrators; and to foster an understanding and appreciation of opera among a diverse public.