Cincinnati Opera breaking stereotypes, broadening diversity

There’s a slew of news out of Cincinnati Opera this week, much of it focused around the company’s renewed emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Here goes:

CO Next: Diverse Voices – a new initiative designed to showcase diverse composers, librettists, and characters – will add a fifth production to the company’s usual summer festival lineup of four operas. In 2018, CO Next: Diverse Voices will offer an intimate opera “As One”, in the new Wilks Studio in the renovated Music Hall. This chamber piece for two singers and string quartet was composed by Laura Kaminsky with librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed. In the work a mezzo-soprano and a baritone depict the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between herself and the outside world.

Cincinnati Opera will partner with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music on the production, directed by CCM’s Robin Guarino, who made her Cincinnati Opera directing debut with “Die Fledermaus” in 2016.

For the 2019 season, Cincinnati Opera is partnering with the Ohio Innocence Project and the Young Professionals Choral Collective to present “Blind Injustice.” This original performance piece will be based on the work and stories of the OIP, as captured in University of Cincinnati law professor Mark Godsey’s book of the same name. The opera will be composed by William Menefield to a libretto by David Cote. Robin Guarino will act as stage director and dramaturg.

“Cincinnati Opera is looking for innovative ways to collaborate with nontraditional partner organizations in an authentic way, to tell current stories of societal importance,” said Marcus Küchle, director of artistic operations and new works development at Cincinnati Opera and the co-artistic director of Opera Fusion: New Works. “We are keenly interested in breaking through the stereotypes of what opera is in the 21st century, and “Blind Injustice” is a perfect example of the type of new works Cincinnati Opera will pursue in future seasons.”

Bass Morris Robinson

Bass Morris Robinson

Morris Robinson, who has performed with Cincinnati Opera numerous times, takes on the new role of artistic advisor to the company. A regular performer at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, he made his role debut as Porgy in “Porgy and Bess” at Teatro alla Scala in Milan earlier this year. Robinson will reprise that role in the company’s 2019 production of “Porgy and Bess” at Music Hall. His three-year appointment will continue through the 2020 season, which will mark the company’s 100th anniversary.

Julie Grady Heard is filling a new part-time position as director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She will be staff liaison to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, a joint committee of the Opera’s Board of Trustees, Guild Board, and Center Stage Board Associates. Heard is a former Opera Guild president and has been a member of the Opera board of trustees since 2008.


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