University of Kentucky Opera Theatre director Everett McCorvey says he tells his children that in life you are known by the company you keep. This season, his opera program will be keeping some really good company.
The 2010-11 arts season will see UK Opera collaborating with companies from New York, Atlanta and Evansville, Ind., as well as debuting new theater technology being developed in Lexington.
The centerpiece of the season is a January production of George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess with the Atlanta Opera.
The show will be the debut of a new rear-projection system for scenery that has been developed by UK's Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, or VIS Center.
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Projected backdrops are nothing new to theater, explained Richard Kagey, a stage director and designer who has worked extensively with the UK and Atlanta opera companies. The problems have been that front projections create shadows and put scenery on the performers, and rear projections require enormous backstage distance between the screen and the projector.
The VIS Center "came up with a software to combine and blend multiple rear-projection units," said Kagey, acting director of UK Opera. "What it means is you can do this projection in 41/2 feet of space."
Kagey showed the audience at a news conference Tuesday a model of the set units in which dozens of rear-projection units will be hung on honeycomb racks behind screens 24 by 30 feet and 24 by 15 feet. The setup will be used for productions in the winter in Lexington and then in Atlanta.
The images that will be used have already been filmed in North and South Carolina.
The new technology removes the need for lots of large scenery, which the opera usually requires.
Kagey said the project is already drawing interest from other opera and theater companies. McCorvey said it is hoped the new technology could generate revenue for UK Opera.
Another collaboration will bring a familiar name back to Lexington: UK Opera and New York's Dicapo Opera Theatre are collaborating on the world premiere of Thomas Pasatieri's God Bless Us Everyone. The opera starts at Ebenezer Scrooge's funeral 20 years after the events of A Christmas Carol and brings Tiny Tim to the United States during the Civil War.
Dicapo general director Michael Capasso said Pasatieri suggested collaborating with UK, with whom he had worked on his 2007 opera, Hotel Casablanca. Capasso is in Lexington to audition students for the show, which will combine the talents of New York and UK singers. The show will have performances in New York on Dec. 16-19 and at the Lexington Opera House on Dec. 21 and 22.
The season also will feature a March co-production with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra of the opera Brundibár, which was originally performed by the children of the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942. Ella Weisberger, a camp survivor, will be at UK for the production.