The Philadelphia Opera Collective continues its mission to make opera accessible. WRTI’s Susan Lewis looks at the way the five-year-old collective is promoting the art form by staging new works in intimate settings with a small ensemble telling compelling stories.
Jump the Moon, part of the 2015 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, opens September 16th and runs through September 20th at the Adrienne Theater's SkyBox in Center City, Philadelphia.
Susan Lewis: In the 1890s, Annie Jump Cannon and other women astronomers at Harvard worked charting the stars. The opera Jump the Moon uses six singers and piano in a small theater to shine a light on these women’s accomplishments.
Michael Lienhard: These women were seemingly without a voice.
SL: Philadelphia Opera Collective founder and producer Michael Lienhard.
ML: We still use their system for cataloging the stars but everyone brushed them aside. Opera, says Lienhard, is an ideal way to herald these once unsung heroes. You can evoke so many emotions when you’re singing, you can tap into everything the human voice can do.
SL: With libretto by director Brenna Geffers, composer Josh Hartman uses singers onstage and off to create a musical world with celestial textures.
Josh Hartman: I try to look at celestial music that is beautiful but also objective, with just that little bit of edge, because I think that’s what reflects what’s so beautiful about the universe –when you’re standing in awe of how huge these galaxies are. It's not roses and petals beautiful. It also has this power behind it...
SL: Philadelphia Opera Collective created Jump the Moon for the 2015 Fringe Festival. Up next is a commission to create a new opera for Philadelphia’s historic Powell House.