One Ounce Opera Highlights the (Death-Obsessed) Work of Four Women Composers and Librettists

Micro-operas were the order of the day at the company's annual Fresh Squeezed showcase


A scene from "The Séance" by Timothy Peterson and Sara Fetherolf (Courtesy of Steve Rogers Photography)

"We've created this network," says One Ounce Opera's Julie Fiore, speaking of the way she and her crew wrangle such compelling new compositions from all over the country. "It's almost like a spider that crawls through the internet or something, and those who've submitted before tell their friends about it, and it spreads from there."

It spreads from there, and each year it winds up, after much deliberation and deciding and rehearsing, in the OOO's Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Opera showcase of four or five micro-operas, which just concluded two back-to-back weekend performances. The Fresh Squeezed program is now presented annually in the bare-bones arena of creative expression called the Museum of Human Achievement – you know, that former warehouse in the Canopy complex off Springdale.

"We have an ongoing relationship with MoHA," says Fiore. "They're our fiscal sponsor, which is awesome, because working with Zac Traeger here for five years has been great, and" – she smiles – "it's nice to be official."

These micro-operas are shorter than 30 minutes each – sometimes as short as 15 minutes each – and so you can assume that the performances will be, at worst, tolerable for someone who doesn't like (or doesn't yet know if they like) opera. But when you're working with such a classic format, you're already not engaging with any lowest common denominator crowd-pandering; so when you're One Ounce Opera and gathering fresh submissions from everywhere, you're not likely to be offering something that's merely tolerable. You'll be going for the knock-everyone's-socks-off scenario, right? This was especially evident at last weekend's Fresh Squeezed concert, with all four of the pieces as enjoyable as anything you'd binge on cable – and performed live, of course, by a company of powerful voices with piano accompaniment.

"The pieces we selected this year fully encompass the styles that are happening in contemporary opera or contemporary music," says Fiore. "We designed a program that touches all of those notes, and hopefully there's a little bit of a connecting point for everyone who comes to these performances."

You might like to know, too, that a woman was either the composer or librettist for each of the works. Which is great because, seriously, fuck the patriarchy. But note that all four works, even the funniest of them (and two were completely, intentionally hilarious), also shared a common theme – death – and that theme, like the concert's women-centric creation, happened by chance.

Because occasionally, even in these trying times, life can be just that rewarding. Especially if catching a performance by the One Ounce Opera company is part of it.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

opera, One Ounce Opera, Julie Fiore, Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Opera, Museum of Human Achievement, Zac Traeger

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