Opera Cabal is dedicated to rewiring the operatic paradigm through bold experiments in music, theater, and multimedia. We advance the belief that the future of opera is inclusion: it should embrace all forms of art, and all types of voices. Opera Cabal’s projects cultivate a fluid, responsive relationship to contemporary culture, and pursue a rapprochement with neighboring creative fields. Our work is curious, welcoming non-classical voices, and embracing the genres of art rock, spoken word, world music, improvisation and pop to opera. It is democratic, empowering audiences to engage in open dialogue with artists, scholars, and critics.
Founded in 2006, Opera Cabal is the brainchild of vocalist, composer and producer, Majel Connery. It was established as a creative asylum for unconventional performers, composers, thinkers and other unclassifiable artists of exceptional caliber, granting them the space, resources and freedom to take risks in the creation of compelling work. Less company than provocation, Opera Cabal is a rotating cast of collaborators and projects. Depending on need, Opera Cabal is and has been an ensemble, a residency series, a community forum, a concert series, a seminar room, a presenter, and a producer. It has appeared in recital halls, museums, art galleries, theater and dance spaces, basements, warehouses, and at academic conferences and panels. Opera was the original multimedia, a radical experiment to combine all the arts. Our mission is reclaiming the openness of this origin story.
"...Opera Cabal is up to something—and it's something I think is long overdue: a determination to infuse opera in this country with a sense of seriousness and inventiveness, urgency and play, interpretive verve and analytic fidelity. In short, this is opera as very much a live art form, not only because we perform in unusual spaces and to packed houses, but because we are alert to opera as a form that engages—or more, that fascinates, that can rivet—contemporary audiences..."
What’s is it?
The big misconception about opera in this country that it’s expensive, tedious, and dominated by gigantic voices and venues. The same misconception motivates our mammoth educational programs in this country, designed to convince young people to swallow opera like so much spinach. Opera Cabal proposes a radical alternative: astonishing musical authority, utterly compelling performances, and no holds barred, by-the-bootstraps theatrical imagination. If we do our work right, there won't be a need any longer to make a pitch for opera.
Who’s your audience?
People who come to Opera Cabal shows are not necessarily the people who subscribe to the Met—they see "experimental" and think "no way." (And I don't blame them. I've seen a lot of dodgy experimental theater.) But I've found that once we've lured someone to a show, they're going to come back again because they realize that what we're doing is provocative, thoughtful, and top-notch in terms of quality. For that crowd, my hope is they leave our productions thinking, "Wait a minute, this is opera? I like opera!" I want people to realize they can stop thinking "how will I ever get into this?" and start thinking "how will I ever settle for anything less?"
Who are you working with?
Opera is by nature collaborative—it might be the original multimedia art form. You can't ever reach the outer limits of opera: the more you add to opera, the more operatic it gets. Music, theater, text, dance, stop animation, giant balloons ... you name it. Opera for me is the perfect medium because I prefer to work with other people instinctively—it just raises the bar on what you can accomplish on your own. And, by the same token, if you’re working with Opera Cabal, you also believe that you stand to gain from a collaborative experience, from other artists looking over your shoulder—it's a constant process of critique and improvement.