Palo Alto's West Bay Opera is launching this month its new Opera DEI program — a training initiative for aspiring professional opera singers from minority ethnic groups — with the goal of expanding opportunities and increasing casting diversity.
Opera DEI (the name is an acronym for "diversity, equality, inclusion" and also a play on the Latin term for "the works of God") will offer free, weekly online coaching sessions from West Bay Opera leaders, as well as additional guidance from guest professionals from around the world. The sessions will run for six weeks and each will accommodate four singers.
Prospective candidates are chosen via video auditions.
"West Bay Opera has always been committed to equal opportunity casting," a press release from the company states. "... But it recognizes that access to opportunities, contacts and financial resources to be able to coach roles or travel to audition in person has been a significant stumbling block for minority artists for decades. One way to address that inherent inequity is to bring those resources to the artists through this program."
The company plans to return to live performance in February 2022 after a 17-month hiatus with a production of Verde's "La traviata" (postponed from May 2020), followed by Tchaikovsky's "Pique Dame" in the spring.
"We’re 100 percent committed to reopening in February, but above all, our commitment is to a safe and responsible reopening," according to a press statement from WBO’s General Director José Luis Moscovich.
More information on Opera DEI is available at wbopera.org.