Amplified Opera was created by Teiya Kasahara and Aria Umezawa to promote the values of equity, diversity and inclusion in and through opera. They have produced shows like The Way I See It, showcasing blind soprano Laurie Rubin and visually impaired pianist Liz Upchurch in a show about visual impairment and its challenges in the opera world (and anyone who nows me will realise how near the bone that cut). They’ve also produced Teiya’s The Queen in Me (which I missed but which was based on the earlier show Queer of the Night); both shows exploring the pressures placed on a gay diva by the opera world.
Now Aria and Teiya are going to be joined by Asitha Tennekoon; a Sri Lankan born tenor who, in normal times, would be reprising his success in the lead role of Tapestry’s Rocking Horse Winner and the amazing Marion Newman who is one of the strongest and most effective voices I know advocating for the proper representation of Indigenous people and perspectives in the classical arts. You may have seen her in the title role of Dean Burry’s Shanawdithit or addressing the question; “What is Indigenous classical music“? in Larry Beckwith’s Confluence series. Great additions to the Amplified Opera team!
We live in strange times for the classical arts. Who knows when we will be able to gather again to share music and our thoughts on it? Given the demographics of the current pandemic will it even be the same audience? Some things, including the issues that Amplified Opera seeks to address, were changing (slowly) before the plague. Will the current hiatus accelerate those changes or will we lapse back into former, familiar ways? Who knows? But it’s heartening to hear that there are strong voices for much needed change and that they are still organising.