A New Take on Classical Music in Monmouth County: Creative OPERAtions
In this installment of the Artzine we're shining the spotlight on Creative OPERAtions, one of the nonprofit member groups that form the foundation of Monmouth Arts' creative community. The organization received one of our Renew 2022 grants last year for its Feed the Soul project, which paired performance with community service. We checked in with Artistic Director Corinne Schaefer to see what's ahead for Creative OPERAtions this year.
For those who aren't familiar with Creative OPERAtions, tell us a little about your nonprofit.
Creative OPERAtions is dedicated to bridging the gap between classical music genres and communities who do not have regular or easy access to the art forms. We want to break down the stereotypes and redefine the perceptions that surround the classical art forms.
Your organization is relatively new to Monmouth County -- how are you finding the creative community here?
I grew up in Monmouth County but hadn't lived in the area for over ten years, having moved to Germany where I was performing. Moving back to the area during the pandemic was rough, but in the past year I have been so inspired by our community and what we have to offer. There are so many new local businesses and initiatives, in addition to a great community of artists who are looking to support one another.
You received a Renew 2022 grant last year for your Feed the Soul program. Can you tell our readers a little bit about that?
We were honored to receive the grant and put it towards the community performance initiative, Feed the Soul. We collaborated with Lunch Break, the Count Basie Center Academy, and local professional performers to bring a free meal and a free concert to those in need -- feeding the body and the soul. The performance featured Latin music, opera, operetta, musical theater, jazz, and dance. And 140 meals were served to our audience members.
We were truly touched by the response from the audience. One woman shared that growing up she and her family didn't have much, but that they always saved up to see a show on Broadway. Our show made her feel like she was back there; she felt like she was home. We couldn't have gotten a better review. Having the ability to produce Feed the Soul and give a free meal and a free performance to those who need it the most reminded us why we are in the arts in the first place.
What events do you have coming up?
Creative OPERAtions and 3BR Distillery in Keyport invite audiences to "Berlin to Broadway," an immersive Kurt Weill concert, on March 10th, at 8:00pm. Guests will feel as though they've been transported to a cabaret in Berlin, cocktails included! The idea for the concert was inspired by 3BR Distillery and its European roots. The venue is the perfect location to travel back in time for an evening of Kurt Weill's music and to follow his musical journey from Europe to America. Kurt Weill was a composer that challenged what opera and classical music could be. He thought that opera and classical music should be more accessible. We couldn't agree with him more! Weill is one of the few classical composers who has had his opera arias performed by everyone from opera divas to rock stars. We are inspired by his vision and we honor his music and journey with this concert.
Can you share an interesting anecdote or something about your organization that would surprise people?
When we were first looking for a name for our nonprofit, we were looking to produce a new opera. We were told that from a marketing standpoint the word "opera" was marketing poison and audiences wouldn't be interested. Loving the art form, that frustrated us. How could we sneak in some opera and classical music and break down people's stereotypes about the art form? Then the name for our nonprofit came to us, Creative OPERAtions! The opera is there, but we've snuck it in!
Like other arts organizations, you went through a period of virtual productions. What has the audiences' response to being in person again?
While virtual productions were and still remain an amazing tool, nothing can replace live in-person performances! Live theater is a shared intimate experience between the performers and the audience. I am struck by how emotional both the audiences and performers have been. I think we are all the more grateful for the arts and to be able to share them in person again.
Will virtual productions remain a part of your work?
Yes. Creatively, virtual productions allowed us to expand the possibilities of what we could achieve and the ability to collaborate with artists from around the world. We also have a monthly podcast, Create Outside the Box! that features artists who are doing just that, leading by example and breaking down barriers.
What are ways your organization stays connected to the community?
We stay connected through our collaborations with different artists, nonprofits, and businesses. As a member of Monmouth Arts, we enjoy the opportunities created to meet and talk with other nonprofits and artists about what we can collectively add to Monmouth County.
Your Berlin to Broadway show is right around the corner, but what else are you looking forward to for the rest of 2023?
Planning and programing more events that collaborate with artists and businesses in our community. We ended 2022 with Feed the Soul, where we were able to collaborate with some great nonprofits in Monmouth County. We are starting 2023 with a collaboration with a new local business. We believe that when the arts collaborate with local businesses and serve the community we are stronger. We want people to invest in the arts, but what are we investing in them? Making the arts part of the social and economic fabric of our society is one of our goals.
Monmouth Arts has a great network of arts supporters. How can our members and readers support your nonprofit right now?
We'd love for them to come out to our March 10th "Berlin to Broadway" event and also sign up for our mailing list to stay up to date on our future programing and projects.
Where can people find out more about Creative OPERAtions?
Interested in becoming a nonprofit member like Creative OPERAtions? Become a member of Monmouth Arts today!