VOX 2010 opera showcase

New York City Opera offers a glimpse of opera's future at NYU's Skirball Center.

Skirball Center for the Performing Arts; Fri 30, Sat 1

Not that you’d guess it from looking at the schedules of most major American opera companies, but we currently live in a golden age for contemporary opera: Composers, librettists and directors are reaffirming the genre’s intrinsic power while questioning its conventions everywhere from Galapagos Art Space to the Gershwin Hotel. Practically alone among institutions of its size and stature, New York City Opera has embraced this creative profusion with VOX, an annual series of concerts featuring excerpts from operas-in-progress—several of which have gone on to successful stagings elsewhere. With the forward-thinking impresario George Steel now holding City Opera’s reins, VOX has become an even more important element in the company’s mix; one work featured in the 2010--2011 season, Stephen Schwartz’s Seance on a Wet Afternoon, received valuable early exposure in a VOX preview.

This year’s crop of presentations, winnowed down from a field of 99 applicants, includes new inventions from seasoned creators (Anthony Davis, Michael Gordon) and works by artists familiar to New York alt-classical habitus (David T. Little, Missy Mazzoli, Du Yun, Paola Prestini). Beth Morrison, a tireless young entrepreneur who specializes in avant-garde collaborations, is producing the event; performers include the appealing soprano Hila Plitmann, Italian folk singer Claudio Prima, and Broadway stars Darius de Haas and Chuck Cooper. And as always, panel discussions with the participants will provide a revealing glimpse behind the opera-making scenes. In a word: crucial.

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