Kentucky Opera: The power of the human voice
Imagine that you are at the opera. The lights dim, the orchestra begins, everything beyond the stage fades. You may conjure an image of performers in 16th-century garb belting in Italian, maybe French. The audience is probably mostly white and may skew older. The central conflict, if you can decipher it, is improbable in the 21st century. Opera’s stereotypes and cliches, while perhaps deserved, are deeply engrained into its social narrative. The art is almost shorthand for being stuffy, pretentious, and boring.
Kentucky Opera is turning that narrative upside down. They understand the primal power at the core of this art form. That there is a reason it is one of the oldest performing arts. And that it has the potential to tell stories that resonate, spark meaningful reflection and conversation, create change. But, it is no small challenge. They called on us to help articulate their story and reframe opera.
We convened people from across the company. Some had been involved for decades. Others, less than six months. We asked what drew them to opera and, specifically, to this company. What makes them most proud, and what challenges they face.
We learned that performances are only a sliver of what they do. They spend the majority of their time in the community connecting with everyone from elementary students to people at assisted living facilities. And, they told us that they don’t exist to put on a ‘nice’ performance. Love it or hate it — you’ll feel something. And because the opera is both deeply personal and communal, it is both a means of reflection, engagement, and social change.
"We don't exist to put on a 'nice' performance. Love it or hate it — you'll feel something."
We crafted a voice that holds all of what they are in harmony: provocative and warm. A friend and a challenger. Smart. The new set of values is an actionable articulation of their purpose — invite exploration, forge connection, inspire change. The headlines, written to catch the eye.
Kentucky Opera understands the magic of the stage and the power that it holds. That to attend the opera is to be part of something bigger. To engage in a deeply human endeavor. And that the stories we choose to tell make all the difference.