Sarah Fraser photo by Dmitry Mokrenko

Podcast 73: Sarah Fraser and Gregory Moomjy

Peter, Brooke & Walker are joined by the podcast’s newest addition, musicologist and critic Greg Moomjy for an everyone’s in their own home visit, with artist manager, Sarah Fraser, from Fletcher Artist Management.  The classical live performance world is three weeks into the complete shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

How are opera companies treating their contracted artists? How much more prepared are the new generation of artists in working the business of making art? What are those artists doing to stay present with their fans? What companies are increasing their online presence with live streams of their productions?

And snuck into the mix is an impassioned discussion about the story and character’s behavior of the opera Breaking the Waves and how those are disturbing on so many levels.

Plus two special guest videos from Chabrelle Williams & Arnold Livingston Geis.

An Audio Only version is available here

Click to Listen

This episode was recorded on Zoom and is available on YouTube.



Dialogue of the Carmelites by Poulenc
The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy


  • Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness – a docu-series on Netflix
  • Metropolitan Opera streaming
    • Tannhauser, Der Meistersinger


  • Contempt, a 1963 movie by Jean-Luc Godard


  • Metropolitan Opera streaming of Wagner’s Ring Cycle
    • Das Rheingold
    • Die Walkure

What’s Happening  Now

  • Des Moines Metro Opera is honoring all it’s artists’ contracts for this season whether they are able to be in production or not.
  • Disney World Parks are paying all their parks and resorts live show casts and other staff from March 12 through April 18th.
  • The Metropolitan Opera, the largest performing arts organization in the United States by budget, has laid off all of its union employees for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. The layoff includes all of the opera’s orchestral players, chorus singers and stagehands.
    • The Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, invoked a “force majeure” clause in the unions’ contracts after New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, banned gatherings of more than 500 people on March 12.
    • The Met indicated previously that it would also not pay any contracted solo singers for performances canceled because of the crisis.
    • A force majeure clause allows changes to a contract because of unforeseeable or uncontrollable circumstance.
    • Under the terms of a settlement agreement dated Tuesday, 3/17/20 the Met’s management will continue to pay health care premiums for its employees. It will also continue to pay for costly instrument insurance for many of its musicians. The employees will be paid their salaries through March 31.
    • A Met spokesperson underscored those provisions and objected to describing the employees’ furlough as a layoff, preferring to call it “a suspension of employment.” However, the terms of the agreement mean that the employees are eligible to file for unemployment.
  • Lincoln Center Theatre has announced that the production of Ricky Ian Gordon & Lynn Nottage’s chamber opera, Intimate Apparel along with the new Broadway musical Flying Over Sunset with music by Tom Kitt, Lyrics by Michael Korie and Book by James Lapine will be rescheduled for Fall 2020.
    • The artists are being paid their full salaries through April 13, 2020.
  • New York Opera Alliance’s 2020 New York Opera Fest is going virtual!
    • NYOA companies who are participating in the Virtual Opera Fest include:
      • American Opera Project, Beth Morrison Projects, Collectio Musicorum, dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, Heartbeat Opera, HERE Arts Center, New Camerata Opera, On Site Opera, Opera on Tap, Regina Opera, Untitled Theater Company No.61 and Victor Herbert Renaissance Project LIVE
  • Opera singers and classical artists are sharing their work online via FaceBook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms.
    • One example found on YouTube is La ci darem la mano performed by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, baritone Ryan McKinny and pianist Kathleen Kelly.

Sarah Fraser

  • Sarah Fraser started out as an opera singer, then completed a Masters in Opera Direction at Florida State University.
  • Sarah directed a production of La Traviata for North Shore Music Festival
    Brooke Larimer sang Flora Bervoix in that production

Resources for the classical singer:

OPERA America offers various seminars, feedback panels for the developing singer as well as a low cost video/audio recording studio.

  • Career Blueprints for Singers
  • Feedback Auditions
  • Making Informed Audition Choices
  • Recording Days
  • Standards for Opera Singers
  • Career Guide for Opera
  • Speakers Bureau
  • Industry Resources and Publications
  • Downloadable Resources: including sample cover letters and resumes and a singer’s self-inventory checklist

Summer Opera Festivals and Young Artist Programs are now including classes in how to manage a career in the performing arts along with the expected classes in live performance skills.

  • Many of the Summer Opera Festivals are moving forward with their 2020
  • Santa Fe Opera
  • Opera Theatre of St. Louis
  • Glimmerglass Festival
  • However many other companies are taking a “wait and see” stance.

Beth Morrison Projects features an “Opera of the Week” released every Thursday on the company’s website and broadcasts for one week. FREE.

  • The free streams have included these operas with more to be scheduled:
  • Dog Days by David T. Little & Royce Vavrek
  • Songs from the Uproar by Missy Mazzoli & Royce Vavrek
  • Acquanetta by Michael Gordan and Deborah Artman

Operas with characters with disabilities

Breaking the Waves, and opera by Missy Mazzoli & Royce Vavrek based on the Lars von Trier movie was scheduled for a new production as part of BAM’s Next Wave Festival in June 2020.

  • The production was being produced by Opera Ventures/Scottish Opera
    • Directed by Tom Morris
    • Conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin
    • Featuring The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    • Chorus of Scottish Opera
  • Los Angeles Opera will be presenting it’s own production of Breaking the Waves as part of it’s 2020-21 season.
  • Breaking the Waves NYC premiere was produced by Prototype Festival at the NYU Skirball Center
  • Breaking the Waves features a lead character who is physically disabled

The Death of Klinghoffer’s lead character is wheelchair bound

New Camerata Opera presented a production of Benjamin Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia in May 2018 with the lead character performed by both an opera singer and a deaf actress. Some of the other performers used sign language during the performance.

Deaf West Theater brought their productions of Spring Awakening and Big River to Broadway which featured mixed casts of hearing impaired actors with hearing actors.

Oklahoma’s recent Broadway revisal featured Ali Stroker, a wheelchair bound actress as Ado Annie.

  • The character was not treated differently in any other way, however the actress is pretty young and blonde, so in some sense the production cast for looks primarily.
  • An important distinction is that Ms. Stroker made certain that the production design and theater would be completely ADA compliant.
  • Ali was also part of the Deaf West Spring Awakening cast
  • She is actively pushing for further inclusion of actors with disabilities on Broadway stages.
  • Ali was recently featured on Disney Plus’s show ENCORE.
  • ENCORE, hosted by Kristen Bell reunites the original casts of certain high schools musical productions to recreate their performances supported by Broadway level creative directors.
    In a recreation of a production of Oklahoma, the original guy who played Will Parker is now wheelchair bound.
  • Ali Stroker was brought in as a guest artist to assist with his staging and movement.

Baritone Weston Hurt, (managed by Sarah Fraser) was born without a right hand. When he first began auditioning he did not have a prosthetic device. He is certain that he lost out on contracts due to his disability, but equally has won some contracts because of it.

BIO: Sarah Fraser

Sarah Fraser began her work with Fletcher Artist Management in 2012, and is heavily involved in the day-to-day activities of managing a flourishing roster of vocalists, directors and conductors. In this position, she benefits from her diverse background in the arts. She has recently served as a panelist for Opera America’s Career Blueprint Seminar, Feedback Auditions, and as a “Making Connections” panelist at the Glimmerglass Festival and Chautauqua Opera. She also taught a “Business of Music” class for Canto Vocal Programs NYC winter workshop.

Prior to her work in artist management, Ms. Fraser worked as a director, assistant director, and stage manager for companies including: the Castleton Festival, Opera Carolina, Opera Omaha, Chautauqua Opera, Central City Opera, Opera Manhattan, Opera Kansas, Bronx Opera, Salt Marsh Opera, and the North Shore Music Festival.
Sarah Fraser received her M.M in Opera Stage Directing from Florida State University, and a B.M. in Vocal Performance, magna cum laude, from Wichita State University. She is a native of McPherson, Kansas, and is based in New York City.


Episode 73 was recorded via Zoom

Photo: by Dmitry Mokrenko

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