Florida Grand Opera has been awarded an OperaAmerica 2022 Opera Grant for Women Stage Directors and Conductors. A part of Opera America’s initiative to encourage the hiring of women in key artistic roles, the award will support conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson’s house debut at the helm of FGO’s production of Handel’s Agrippina in May.
A survey of recent opera seasons revealed that women make up fewer than 30 percent of the stage directors and fewer than 15 percent of the conductors working on American opera productions. Organizational members of Opera America, the national opera advocacy nonprofit, may apply for up to 50% of the cost of bringing in a female stage director or conductor, up to an award of $10,000. FGO is one of nine 2022 grantees.
“FGO is extremely excited to welcome Jeri Lynne Johnson to our podium, and immensely gratified to receive this important support from Opera America,” says FGO General Director and CEO, Susan T. Danis. “We are committed to enriching our audience’s experience and FGO’s infrastructure through continuing to celebrate and center the work of women, BIPOC/AAPI, LGBTQ, and other communities.”
Jeri Lynne Johnson is a barrier-breaking conductor, founder, and director of Philadelphia’s Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra. She is the first Black woman to win an international conducting prize, the 2005 Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship., and has frequently claimed a historic spot as the first Black woman to take the podium at many orchestras. She has conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (U.K.), and Weimar Staatskapelle (Germany).
“I’m deeply honored to be the recipient of this grant to support the expansion of diversity and inclusion in creative leadership positions in the opera world,” says Johnson. “As a creative artist, embracing new experiences is critical to longevity in one’s career, and to be able to engage with Baroque opera when most of my opera experience is with contemporary works is super exciting to me.”
Johnson arrives in Miami in May to conduct George Frideric Handel’s Agrippina, a 300-year-old opera based on the true story of a powerful and ambitious Roman queen who stopped at nothing to put her son on the throne.
“It’s especially inspiring to have a woman shape and lead the musical story of a fierce female protagonist,” says Danis. “We look forward to many more of these collaborations,”
Rigoletto (Miami – March 12 -17; Broward – March 31 & April 2)
Fellow Travelers (Broward – April 23 – 28 mature content)
Agrippina (Miami – May 14 – 19)
Tickets are available at www.fgo.org.