Opera, TSO to stage joint production with eye on other partnerships

In the social media circles, Tacoma Opera and Tacoma Symphony Orchestra might not be “in a relationship,” but they are exploring idea of changing that status.

The arts organizations jointly announced that a grant from the Forest Foundation will allow TSO to be the opera’s pit orchestra for its opening production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” this fall.

“It’s a one-time production to see how it goes,” Opera General Director Noel Koran said. “It’s a testing the waters sort of thing. We are just going to see how it goes. It is all very, very tentative at this point. We are separate organizations, but we both have really come to the conclusion that we don’t compete with each other, so this seemed like a no-brainer.”

A joint production, therefore, could benefit the symphony as well as the opera by introducing their individual subscribers to the works of the other group. Opera fans might find themselves at the symphony and vice versa while also adding a new dimension to the local artistic landscape. This trial production will, for example, replace the 20-member opera orchestra with the power of some 80 TSO musicians who have largely played side by side for years.

This “partnership explorations” comes just months after the Tacoma Philharmonic and the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts joined forces that made the Broadway Center the administrative umbrella for the philharmonic.

“The collaboration between Tacoma Opera and the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra will help to strengthen the infrastructure of Tacoma’s vibrant cultural life in myriad ways and help to highlight the wealth of musical talent we have in our region,” said Koran.

This collaboration comes at a time when funding organizations have called for regional nonprofits – including the performing arts – to find ways to work together for the greater good and in ways that enhance service delivery and efficiency. The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, in particular, has emphasized this by offering a series of “Authentic Collaboration” seminars seeking to help nonprofits see themselves as part of an open, integrated system rather than as independent “silos.”

“We are thrilled and excited to partner with the excellent Tacoma Opera,” stated TSO Executive Director Andrew Buelow. “This collaboration will enable the two organizations – each with separate cultures and traditions – to get acquainted and to learn about and from each other. It will give the public an opportunity to see us both in a new light. We hope to pique people’s interest: to make the TSO’s audience curious to check out Tacoma Opera, and vice versa. We don’t compete with each other, we complement each other.”

Potential future productions, if all goes well in the fall, could bring concert performances of operas or weekend events that showcase works by composers who wrote operas as well as symphonies, namely Giuseppe Verde, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Mozart.

“Cosi fan tutte” runs Nov. 2 and 4 at the Rialto Theater. Visit http://www.tacomaopera.com for more information.

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