In his role as director of the Cedar Rapids Opera, Daniel Kleinknecht is always in planning mode, and so it was great to catch up with him recently to chat about what he’s got in store for us in the months to come.
CR Opera Blog: Hi, Daniel! Thank you for talking with us! Give us a sneak peek of what’s coming up next.
Daniel Kleinknecht: I’m very excited about a lecture that my dear friend, Karen Wachsmuth, Associate Director, International Fellowships and International Programs at the University of Iowa, is putting together with her former colleague, Christopher Squier, a retired professor of global health at the UI, about the reoccurring theme of disease in opera. The title of the lecture, which we plan to present virtually at 7 p.m., April 8, is “Last Gasp.”
CR Opera Blog: Love the title. What will we learn in the lecture?
DK: Disease is often a factor in opera, and many opera heroines succumb to disease, usually tuberculosis. Karen and Christopher will talk about operas such as La Traviata and La Boheme in which disease plays a central role, and they’ll also provide some excerpts of these operas to appreciate.
I have also researched what the Metropolitan Opera in New York did during the influenza outbreak of 1918. It’s fascinating to realize that they struggled with the same questions and challenges we are working with regarding Covid-19.
CR Opera Blog: What’s coming after the “Last Gasp”?
DK: Well, we’ll kick off the summer with another “From the Heart” video series. I plan to ask everyone who did a video last June to provide us with an updated video about their lives during the past year and how they kept music alive in their homes and their hearts. We had a great response to the video series in 2020, and I think it will do us all good to reflect on some of the unexpected good that came out of this challenging year.
CR Opera Blog: Anything else you’d like to announce?
DK: We’ve got a great Juneteenth concert planned to celebrate the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. This concert will be held outdoors in Iowa City’s Lower City Park. We will produce the same concert in Waterloo a few days later. We’ll also collaborate with the African American Museum of Iowa to organize a panel discussion around the arts and race.
I’m looking forward to a busy spring and summer!
CR Opera Blog: Thank you, Daniel! We can’t wait for these events!