Anchorage Opera Selected to Serve on National Panel and Announces Veterans Engagement Project
Anchorage Opera (AO) is honored to have been selected by OPERA America (OA), the industry’s national service organization, to participate in a two-year initiative designed to build the field’s capacity for strengthening communities through opera and increase their capacity to work collaboratively with other organizations to address civic priorities. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts through its Our Town program, which supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful and resilient places with the arts at their core. Companies selected to take part in the Civic Action Group, and chosen for their track records of building trusting and mutually beneficial community partnerships, are Anchorage Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Memphis, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Manitoba Opera (Winnipeg, MB) and Pacific Opera Victoria (Victoria, BC) — OPERA America is funding their participation.
AO General Director, Reed Smith and Marketing & Development Director, Judy Berry convened with representatives from each company in NYC, Dec 12-13, 2016, to discuss approaches to deepening service to communities through opera, and to help other companies find ways to enhance cultural value in their own communities. The group will share initial learning with the field through a presentation at OPERA America’s next annual conference in May 2017 in Dallas.
As proud members of the newly minted national Civic Action Group, Anchorage Opera announces a special project, AK Vet Stories, honoring our Alaska veterans’ community. On Feb 10, 12, 16 & 18, 2017, Anchorage Opera presents the Alaska premiere of Glory Denied by Tom Cipullo at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Based on the book of the same title by Tom Philpott, with a foreword by Senator John McCain, the show relates the poignant true story of America’s longest-held POW, the wrenching agonies faced by his family, and the larger story of a nation divided during the Vietnam era. “We are honored to produce this beautiful, socially relevant and important multi-media theater work to our community so that we may all gain a greater appreciation of the sacrifices made by those who serve in our armed forces,” stated Smith “and as part of each performance we want to highlight personal recollections and memories of real life experiences from veterans in our community, in order to put the theater experience into the perspective of our own social landscape in Alaska. By collecting stories from our veterans, to be transcribed onto cards and placed on each of the theater seats, we hope attendees will be engaged with the story on a more personal level, as they read their own seat card, and that the significance of the show, and its impact upon them, will thereby be increased.”
Alaska veterans who wish to be a part of this project, are invited to share a story, a memory, a feeling, or a thought about their time in the service. “Each veteran is free to express his or herself however they wish, so that each seat card is as different as the person whose story it relates,” said Smith. “A sentence or two, a paragraph, a page, a poem, a stream of thought narrative, an expression of feeling, a drawing, signed or anonymous; all submissions are welcomed.” Glory Denied relates the story of one particular veteran, but with AK Vet Stories Anchorage Opera hopes to make an evening of theater more real, and bring a bit closer to home.