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San Diego’s younger opera company, Opera NEO, announced today the cancellation of its annual Summer Opera Festival due to the current coronavirus pandemic. With concerts slated in mid-July, 2020, and staged opera performances at UC San Diego’s Mandeville Auditorium slated to open in early August, company Artistic Director Peter Kozma and his Board of Directors decided that bringing to San Diego some 30 young artists and the necessary festival staff  from all parts of the country was both unwise and unlikely even two months from today.

Peter Kozma [photo courtesy of Opera NEO]

Ambitious productions of Charles Gounod’s Faust and Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Platée have been reassigned to the 2021 season, but the scheduled Magic Flute of Mozart will be streamed online August 7-9 on the company’s website and Facebook page. Each performer will record their part at home, and these individual components will be fused into a single virtual production.

“We decided on The Magic Flute because it is a widely popular opera by a signature composer, and the steady tempos and closed forms of Mozart’s classical style would be easier to put together’” explained Kozma. “Also, this opera has the largest cast of the three operas we had scheduled, so it will involve the greatest number of singers we had engaged for the festival.

“Under the stage direction of Ophilie Wolf, we will rehearse together on Zoom, in the same way so many classes are being taught at the moment, and we are sending out piano ‘tracks’ to each singer to prepare them for the rehearsals.”

In terms of costumes, the company’s costume director will contact each performer to coordinate attire, and matching hand props will be mailed to each singer.

Luke Harnish in Opera NEO’s 2019 Eugene Onegin will sing Papageno in The Magic Flute [photo (c.) Gary Payne]

Since the company cannot rely on the usual box office income, it has established the Opera NEO Artist Relief Emergency Fund to which the public may make contributions: https://www.operaneo.com/get-involved.

Ken Herman

Ken Herman

Ken Herman, a classically trained pianist and organist, has covered music for the San Diego Union, the Los Angeles Times' San Diego Edition, and for sandiego.com. He has won numerous awards, including first place for Live Performance and Opera Reviews in the 2017, the 2018, and the 2019 Excellence in Journalism Awards competition held by the San Diego Press Club. A Chicago native, he came to San Diego to pursue a graduate degree and stayed.Read more…

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