Opera Frontier delights both opera fans and opera-phobes. We revere opera. We faithfully excerpt from traditional scores and strive for technically excellent singing. But beyond that, we take outrageous liberties in the service of engaging our audience in unexpected ways . . . through radical changes of context and casting, through the introduction of elements from dance, popular culture, contemporary beat, and narrative. In this way, Opera Frontier redefines the way an audience experiences this glorious music.
Opera Frontier's Troupe of "choreographable" classically-trained singers perform its portable revue throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. To discuss featuring OFT at your event or for more information, contact
Opera Frontier was founded in 2007 by Artistic Director, Gail Simpson. It is a virtual opera company that produces full-length shows, as well as stand-alone performance pieces and Pop-Up Opera events at various locations. Our performers are "choreographable" early- to mid-career opera singers.
Opera Frontier productions are intended to delight both opera fans and opera-phobes. We revere opera. We faithfully excerpt from traditional scores and strive for technically excellent singing. But beyond that, we take outrageous liberties in the service of engaging our audience in unexpected ways . . . through radical changes of context and casting, through the introduction of elements from dance, popular culture, contemporary beat, and narrative. In this way, Opera Frontier redefines the way an audience experiences this glorious music.
Explore the videos on this site to learn more about our signature productions.
Opera Frontier was hatched in my mind while daydreaming in Roger Dilahunty's jazz-blues dance class. Instead of concentrating on the routines he so ardently wanted me to master, I started wondering if I could combine my affection for musical theater with my passion for the opera repertoire.
I decided to explore the idea of an opera company that created new works from the familiar repertoire by re-imagining the context for contemporary audiences. I wanted to sing Lucia, but not as a 16-year-old pawn in a 17th century power struggle! I decided to recast this and other powerful music in contexts that relate to our daily lives – from working out at the gym, power shopping, dealing with office politics, and negotiating business deals . . . even to navigating the global economic meltdown!
In order to introduce elements of theatrical choreography, I needed to recruit singers with impeccable vocal technique, but who were also willing to "dance" to the edge (or Frontier!) of their comfort zone. Luckily, such singers have come forward enthusiastically and relish the challenge. Within our body of work, there are pieces that combine opera with hip-hop, ballet, tango and even authentic classical Indian and Bollywood choreography,
I have long thought of opera singers as the "keepers of the overtones". For nearly two generations of popular culture, these overtones have been under-recorded, sampled and compressed to such an extent that many people have never heard the full riches of the human voice. It is among the most rewarding of discoveries awaiting new audiences. Opera Frontier is hoping to deliver this experience unexpectedly to potential new fans, by giving them overtones, while also meeting entertainment standards of relevance and energy that today's audiences expect. I hope you will look at some of our video clips and then decide to come to one of our shows.
The music in the classic opera repertoire has the power to stir emotions and transform people's lives as deeply as any theatrical experience available today.
Furthermore, trained opera singers are the purveyors of unique acoustical qualities that cannot be captured or reproduced by most technology; and these qualities make a palpable contribution to the emotional experience of a live audience.
But many people never choose to hear opera performed live because: it is expensive; it is stigmatized as elitist and ritualistic; it is often in a foreign language and deemed incomprehensible; and it seems culturally irrelevant to their lives.
We are passionate about creating new works that challenge stereotypes about opera. We believe that under the right circumstances, singers can execute the technical demands of opera, while still meeting expectations of popular entertainment.
Although we cherish the opportunity to perform live, we recognize the power of technology, social media and the Internet to make our work reach a wider audience.
To create and present new works using music from the standard opera repertoire, but unhooked from operatic convention in ways that are affordable and appeal to contemporary audiences.