opera

The first opera hit the stage over 400 years ago. More recently, the art form has been adapted to modern media: In the 1920s and '30s, operas were written to be performed on the radio, and in 1951, NBC commissioned Gian Carlo Menotti to compose Amahl And The Night Visitors for television.

Symphony orchestras and opera companies across the country continually ask the same question: How do we attract a younger and more diverse audience?

Saturday night, I discovered something of an answer at the Washington National Opera's east coast premiere of Champion, a four-year-old opera by jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard.

In 21 seasons of attending WNO performances, I've never witnessed a more diverse crowd.

Classical composers have long had their patrons: Beethoven had Archduke Rudolph, John Cage had Betty Freeman. For contemporary opera composers, there's Beth Morrison. She and her production company have commissioned new works from some of the most innovative emerging composers today.

Ryan Speedo Green (@RyanSpeedoGreen) is the bass-baritone taking the opera world by storm. A recent New York Times review of the Metropolitan Opera’s “La Bohème” called him “a show stopper.”

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