Art Works Blog

Great American Voices for Great American Heroes

Washington, DC

JiYoung Lee and other young artists from Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist program performed at the Great American Voices launch event, which was held in the Renwick Gallery's Grand Salon. Photo by Keith W. Wood, The Boeing Company

From 2005-2007, the NEA's Great American Voices Military Base Tour: Unforgettable Melodies from Opera and Broadway (GAV) sent professional opera companies out to perform classic songs from opera and musical theater at military installations nationwide. With support from Opera America and The Boeing Company, over the course of the program 24 professional opera companies performed free concerts at 41 bases across the U.S., including Naval Base Kitsap (Washington), Fort Leavenworth (Kansas), and Langley Air Force Base (Virginia).  In addition to performances, participating artists conducted school visits and pre-concert briefings to familiarize each community's youth and adults with these musical genres.

In 2006, with support from GAV, Los Angeles Opera Company presented selections from Porgy and Bess, Don Giovanni, Rigoletto and other works to enthuasiastic audiences at California's Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms and Los Angeles Air Force Base. Here's what Placido Domingo, the opera's general director, had to say about the experience in a 2008 interview:

In addition to allowing us to give something back to those serving their country and to their families, Great American Voices also enables us to bring the magic of opera to many people for their first experience with live performances. We are delighted that the relationship continued beyond the initial residency, when we welcomed a large number of enthusiastic students from Twentynine Palms High School to our production of La Boheme . . . and we look forward to inviting more students to see Carmen . . . We are so grateful to the NEA for making this relationship possible for us.

You can learn more about the Great American Voices initiative on our website. Don't forget to browse the resources, including a primer on opera history. Visit our Opera Honors page to learn more about  U.S. artists and arts managers who have made an enduring mark on the opera field.

To get you in the mood for further browsing, listen to 2008 NEA Opera Honors recipient Leontyne Price singing "Summertime" from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

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