Lesson Plan Press Release
STEPHANIE BLYTHE AND LAQUITA MITCHELL STAR IN THE LIVE AND INTERACTIVE DIGITAL WORLD PREMIERE OF LESSON PLAN
On Site Opera Opens Tenth Anniversary Season with a Little Humor and a Lot of Star Power
NEW YORK, December 1, 2021 – On Site Opera, New York’s pioneering opera company rooted in site specific storytelling and the immersive experience, revisits the perils, hilarity, and teachable lessons of 2020 with Lesson Plan, a live and interactive digital production based on Georg Phillip Telemann’s Der
Schulmeister with additional music and new English libretto by Rachel J. Peters, Friday, January 21- Saturday, January 29, 2022. Tailored for the operatically curious with audiences taking an active part in the performance, opera greats Stephanie Blythe and Laquita Mitchell and an off-camera furry friend lead a less-than enthusiastic class of students through an opera workshop in the throes of remote learning. While scales and arias were part of the curriculum, with a little humor and a lot of heart, they leave with a much more valuable lesson in humility, humanity, and truly finding their voice.
Performed in English for a modern audience, this reimagined Baroque cantata brings an internationally celebrated operatic contralto (Stephanie Blythe) into the world of Zoom teaching while her headlining stage engagements are put on hold. Thought to be teaching trained singers at a prestigious conservatory, she catches her assistant in a scheduling faux pas and instead takes the Zoom stage for a classroom of liberal arts students at a community college with the same acronym – a group with little singing experience or interest in what the great diva had in mind. Intercepted by an overwhelmed school administrator (Laquita Mitchell) with a side hustle as an amateur choir director, the pair clash over teaching technique, singing and the true meaning of art. A humorous exchange injected with audience participation and a feline friend with perfect pitch, the pair leaves with a new understanding of what it’s like to really listen, learn, and find the shared humanity in all of us.
“After pivoting to unique digital operatic experiences as a response to COVID closures, we found tremendous joy in flexing our creative muscles and expanding our On Site Opera family from New York City to around the globe!” explains Eric Einhorn, General and Artistic Director of On Site Opera. “In this tenth anniversary season and beyond we are making a commitment to continue to cultivate our global audience by offering both live and digital performances, and we can’t think of a better way to kick off our new season than with a little laughter and new work that gives us all a very relatable look at the last two years of our lives.”
“Lesson Plan started as a breezy little goof that took a lot of twists and turns. It’s a synthesis of the Telemann source material, a zillion hours of online talks from anointed musical experts of various genres, wisdom from both our leading ladies, an extensive oral history archive, and so much more,”
explains Composer and Librettist: Rachel J. Peters. “It ultimately explores what happens when assumed absolute truths about the ways we’ve always done things are suddenly challenged, with plenty of silliness and incredible talent.”
Lesson Plan will be performed LIVE on Zoom for six performances only:
Friday, January 21st at 7:30pm EST
Saturday, January 22nd at 2pm EST
Saturday, January 22nd at 7:30pm EST
Friday, January 28th at 7:30pm EST
Saturday, January 29th at 2pm EST
Saturday, January 29th at 7:30pm EST
Tickets are $30 per device and available at https://osopera.org/productions/lesson-plan/ These performances will not be recorded, and a replay will not be available.
Based on Georg Phillip Telemann’s Der Schulmeister (1751)
Additional music, libretto, and singing translation by Rachel J. Peters
Alice Tommasso: Stephanie Blythe
Robinetta: Laquita Mitchell
Composer and Librettist: Rachel J. Peters
Director: Eric Einhorn
Conductor: Geoffrey McDonald
Audio Design: Jon Robertson
Video Design: Paul Deziel
Set and Costume: Junghyun Georgia Lee
Associate Costume Design: Ilana Breitman
Stage Manager: Danielle Ranno
Violin: Orlando Wells and Victoria Paterson
Double Bass: Roger Wagner
Bassoon: Nanci Belmont
Piano/Harpsichord: Dmitry Glivinskiy
Adapted and expanded from Georg Philipp Telemann’s Der Schulmeister, Lesson Plan takes audiences into an interactive Zoom classroom where opera greats Stephanie Blythe and Laquita Mitchell lead a less-than enthusiastic class of students through an opera workshop in the throes of remote learning. While scales and arias were part of the curriculum, with a little humor and a lot of heart, they leave with a much more valuable lesson in humility, humanity, and truly finding their voice.
ABOUT ON SITE OPERA
Founded in 2012 and celebrating their 10th anniversary season, New York City-based On Site Opera is the country’s leading presenter of site-specific operas in non- traditional venues. Rooted in collaboration and storytelling, On Site Opera celebrates the connection between artist and audience through highly curated experiences led by exciting opera artists and bold and innovative creative teams. Each On Site Opera production invites New Yorkers to explore their city in new and unique ways, while cultivating a new generation of opera audiences. To date, OSO has produced 19 operas in as many unique locations to critical acclaim, including the Bronx Zoo, Harlem’s historic Cotton Club, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the American Museum of Natural History, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Committed to exploring new technology to make opera more accessible, OSO was the first opera company to employ Google Glass supertitles, and the company has currently developed its own mobile app for multi-language translations and digital program information.
Following extended COVID-related theater closures in 2020, On Site Opera was recognized as a leading organization in reimagining opera, bringing productions to audiences around the world through the telephone, by mail, and online in inventive and creative productions.