Opera Philadelphia Launches Festival Style Performances

Berwyn resident David Levy helped bring the new kick off format to the 2016-2017 season.

For David Levy, the kick off of the 42nd season of Opera Philadelphia will be nothing short of grand. As Senior Vice President of Artistic Operations, he has arranged for a season like never before, premiering three different shows at three different venues on three consecutive nights.

Every year, the company develops, produces and performs works from the operatic canon. This year, Levy and his company have decided to try a new model: a classical, artistic festival style, putting site-specific shows on at local venues and having them run simultaneously. “That’s a big change for us in terms of launching into that festival format. We are still presenting and producing a pretty balanced variety of kinds of opera, which we try to do in any general season. We love to present the big, grand, popular titles in a dynamic and fresh way,” he says.

Next September, the company will present seven operas over a period of 12 days, changing from their current stagioni format to repertory in an effort to draw both regional and international patrons of the arts. But in order for next season’s operas to run smoothly, the senior producer must make sure the shows make it to the city’s many stages.

- Advertisement -

On a daily basis, the Berwyn resident oversees the artistic side of production. “I am responsible for supervising the execution of bringing in opera from the page to the stage,” Levy says. Some days he’s in the theaters checking on set construction or examining rehearsals to ensure that all shows run smoothly, working out any kinks before a premier. “In live performance. Anything can happen,” he says. “You’re always on your toes.”

Levy does travel for work, sometimes serving as a casting consultant when bringing in new shows. “A typical days very much depends whether or not we’re in rehearsal or performance, or whether or not we’re in the planning phase.” Many days he spends in his office on Locust Street, speaking with artists’ agents.

Levy has been with Opera Philadelphia for five years, having moved upward within the industry and jumping at the chance to work in a large metropolitan area. He previously held the same job title at Kentucky Opera and served as Artistic Administration Manager at the Washington National Opera in D.C.

In contrast to working with one of the highest regarded art forms, Levy, who originally hails from St. Louis, now lives the life of a typical Main Line dad. At home, he can be found chauffeuring his two children, between school, soccer, cheerleading and music lessons. “When school is in session and when sports are going on, my evenings and weekends often revolve around those kinds of activities,” he says.

Levy enjoys bringing his kids to operas and has been doing so since his oldest daughter was six. “[Opera is] not for everyone, but certainly you have a better shot at really developing a taste for it when you’re involved at a young age. You get to better understand the conventions and the beauty of the form,” he says. “I bring them as much as I can and they love the live performance aspect.” Unlike most operagoers, the Levy’s get to see backstage, meet the singers and see the nuts and bolts. “There are so many people and it’s such a dynamic environment that it’s pretty exciting to them,” Levy says.

- Partner Content -

Opera Philadelphia as a whole makes an effort to foster the skills of artists and is interested in developing new work. The city has been working with the American Repertory Program and now hosts “the most robust composed-in-residence program in the world,” Levy says. As proof of its success, the 2016 mini festival will begin with a World Premier of composer-in-residence Missy Mazzoli’s chamber opera Breaking the Waves on Sept. 22 at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center.

Turandot, which features world famous soprano Christine Goerke, will premier at the Philadelphia Academy of Music on Sept. 23., and on Sept. 24, Macbeth takes the stage at the Prince Theater, co-presented with the Fringe Festival.

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!