A final thought . . .
. . . from Timothy Myers
Here we are, together again, inside this theater*, for the first time since January of 2020. Isn’t it glorious?
Early in the pandemic—in fact, mere days after the first lockdown was announced— our General Director and CEO, Annie Burridge, realized that for as long as our live performances were limited by all the COVID restrictions, the digital realm would offer us an important way to stay in touch with our existing patrons and reach new audiences at the same time. It would also help ensure we did not have to lay off any of our invaluable staff members. So, as a team, we swiftly made the necessary shift from producing live performances to creating a digital library of recitals, interviews, and conversations, under the banner Live from Indy Terrace, which is thriving and continuing to grow.
All of us have relished the challenges of developing this digital library and I hope you have enjoyed these unique experiences while we haven’t been able to be together in person. Though it began as a vital pivot Austin Opera made at a crucial moment, Live from Indy Terrace is now an integrated, essential part of our mission that we continue to develop to deepen our connection with current and future audiences. We are immensely proud of that work.
However, as we all stayed home interacting and consuming primarily on a screen, it became clearer to me than ever that the ‘job’ of our organization is not just to provide the most perfectly rehearsed and performed performance of, say, The Marriage of Figaro. While a high-level artistic standard and execution is of utmost importance, we just as importantly create a community around a shared in-person experience. Coming together again today in this theater, for this live performance, lies at the core of that work.
After all, what a “perfect performance” of Figaro would look like is very subjective, and something on which many will never agree. But more importantly, and what I hope the last 18 months have taught us, is that when we come together for a live performance, we are sharing a unique event.
There’s a joy to putting on that favorite recording that we know inside and out, and love because we know exactly what to expect. It’s a predetermined outcome, and there’s comfort and beauty in that. However, what we do in live performance is take risks, and by taking those risks, we have the opportunity to create miracles. For us as performers, the moments/minutes/hours that we share with each other and with you, our beloved audience, are entirely unique and unrepeatable. This performance never existed before and will never exist again in the same way. We could even stop the performance and repeat the same aria, but it would be different, and quite possibly, very different from the first time.
As we inhabit this theater together, waves of sound and energy are flowing around and through all of us, and that feeling can’t be captured digitally. You know what I mean, I’m sure, when there’s a singer and full orchestra but, somehow, even with all their potential power, they can still create a pianissimo note that is so pure and so soft that it not only reaches the back of the hall but also wraps itself like silk around everyone in the room. That’s a miracle.
No matter how many times you have seen The Marriage of Figaro before, this performance will be different. This performance will give you something new, and we are all here to do it together, to break the silence and fill the air with some very special magic.
All of us at Austin Opera are proud of our digital work, the way we have come through this challenging time, and are immensely grateful to you for being with us all the way. But we’re also excited to be ‘home’ again, doing what we do best. While we will continue to share with you exciting new ventures which you can consume in a variety of comfortable formats, know that they are all our personal invitation to you to join us again, together in one room, where we can all create unparalleled magic.
Sarah and Ernest Butler Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor
*This article appears in the program book for Austin Opera’s Fall 2021 production of The Marriage of Figaro.