"Opera in Action - Reflecting social and cultural values onstage and off"
Alison Moritz, WashU alumna and stage director
Frances Pollock and Damien Sneed, composers
Allison Felter, Director of Education & Engagement, Opera Theatre of St. Louis
Moderated by Anh Le, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, Opera Theatre of St. Louis
Co-sponsored by Opera Theatre of St. Louis
Our alum spotlight on stage director Alison Moritz unfolds within a panel discussion with two young composers, Frances Pollock and Damien Sneed, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s director of education, Allison Felter. The panel title, “Opera in Action – Reflecting Social and Cultural Values Onstage and Off,” brings into focus an important goal for Moritz and others within the opera world -- building an audience through a critical engagement with relevant social issues.
This panel kicks off a weekend of events sponsored by Friends of Music in celebration of the Department of Music's 75th Anniversary.
Allison Felter is completing her 28th year as Director of Education and Engagement for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis where she oversees more than a dozen education programs for student and adult audiences including the Bayer Fund Artists-in-Training Program for high school students, the only program of its kind in the country and recognized as a national model by the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities. In 2014 she helped create and launch two notable community engagement events--Spring Sing! and “#With Normandy: A Concert for Peace and Unity” featuring Christine Brewer and Denyce Graves, along with church, school, and community choirs, in response to the unrest in Ferguson, MO. In 2021, she led a digital version of Opera Theatre’s educational programming featuring The Pirates of Penzance which reached a world-wide audience of 88,000 students in all 50 states and 10 countries on five continents. Allison is a recipient of the 2018 St. Louis Visionary Award for Outstanding Arts Professional. She is also a professional freelance French horn player and a co-founder of the national All-American Alumni Band which presented its inaugural concert in St. Louis at the Shaw Bandstand in Tower Grove Park in 2019.
Anh Le is the Director of Marketing & Public Relations at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where she oversees all sales campaigns and audience development strategies while providing key strategic support for company-wide community engagement efforts. In addition to her duties at OTSL, Anh is deeply involved with OPERA America, where she serves as a board member, the Co-Chair of the Communications Council, the Co-Chair of the Marketing Network, and a Steering Committee member of the Racial Justice Opera Network. Anh is an alumna of Harvard University and received an M.F.A. in Theater Management from the Yale School of Drama.
Alison Moritz, stage director, is quickly garnering a reputation for her incisive takes on contemporary American opera and innovative interpretations of the classic repertoire. Her recent credits include original productions at Portland Opera, Washington National Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Omaha, the Ravinia Festival, and Tanglewood, as well as digital projects for Glimmerglass Festival, Experiments in Opera, and Opera Omaha. Committed to developing American operatic repertoire, Alison has helmed several world premieres including Proving Up (Mazzoli/Vavrek), and Taking Up Serpents (Sankaram/Dye), and has workshopped operas by Rene Orth and David Hertzberg for Opera Philadelphia. Her professional credits also include engagements with Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Minnesota Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Atlanta Opera, and Chautauqua Opera. She currently serves as the Managing Artistic Director of Opera at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. www.alisonmoritz.com
Known for her “bold and bracing” (Baltimore Sun) opera writing, Frances Pollock’s music “pulls no punches and never flinches.” (City Paper). She has written operas for Washington National Opera, the PROTOTYPE Festival, Chicago Lyric, Seattle Opera, and American Opera Projects. Her opera, Stinney (co-librettist Tia Price), won the “Best of Baltimore” award in 2015 and was programmed at the 2019 PROTOTYPE Festival. Her opera Earth to Kenzie (librettist Jessica Murphy Moo) toured in the 2019-2020 season with both Chicago Lyric and Seattle Opera. She is currently developing an opera Salt with librettist (and wife and best friend) Emily Roller. Salt is backed by the Midnight Oil Collective, of which Pollock is a founding member and general partner.
Pollock holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Theory and Composition from Furman University, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Peabody Conservatory, and is currently a doctoral student at Yale University.
Damien Sneed is a multi-genre artist, composer, pianist, and conductor from Augusta, GA whose musical abilities seamlessly span the worlds of jazz, classical, pop, and R&B. A Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient who has worked with artists as varied as Wynton Marsalis to Aretha Franklin, he is also the founder and artistic director of Chorale Le Chateau. His recent opera, The Tongue and The Lash, was commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as part of the New Works Bold Voices Lab in 2021. Together with his librettist Karen Chilton, Damien will present a new performing edition of Scott Joplin’s seminal opera Treemonisha in Opera Theatre’s 2023 Festival Season.