Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro” never opened at Macky Auditorium on March 13. After months of preparation and a first run-through, the University of Colorado’s Eklund Opera was forced to cancel due to COVID-19 health concerns. And this was only the beginning.
As CU moved online, the transition has been difficult for CU Presents and students in the performing arts, including theater, music and dance. The performing arts experience, which is inherently about collaboration and a live audience, is impossible to replicate over Zoom and livestreaming platforms.
“It’s definitely been rough,” said sophomore cellist Ethan Blake. “For me, as with many others, it’s been hard both financially and artistically, as many people had concerts and gigs in and out of school canceled. But as hard as it is, it’s absolutely necessary to keep us and the ones around us safe.”
CU Presents has canceled all performances until the end of the summer, including the Artist Series, student recitals and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. With social distancing and quarantine, Joan Braun, the executive director of CU Presents, said the “fundamental nature of the arts industry,” which is about “bringing people together” physically, is too dangerous.
“It’s very hard for our students,” Braun said. “All of a sudden with no warning their lives are turned completely upside down.”
However, unlike other Boulder arts nonprofits, CU Presents is “well-positioned to weather this difficult time in the short term,” according to Braun. As a part of the university, CU Presents is more economically stable than stand-alone nonprofits. The company’s core employees have not been furloughed, though their 2020 Colorado Shakespeare Festival employees are out of work.
In the meantime, they plan to present pre-recorded livestreams and faculty performances on the College of Music’s website to stay connected with faculty, students and the greater Boulder community. Currently, two works by Beethoven are featured, the University Orchestra’s “Fifth Symphony” and piano professor David Koreevar’s “Sonata No. 1, Op. 2.”
“Our goal is to stay connected and provide our patrons with something that is valuable and sustaining to them during this time,” Braun said. “Livestreaming gives hope and reminds them of what’s so special about the performing arts.”
Braun said she doesn’t think livestreaming will be a long-term substitute though. The heart of the performing arts is in “collaboration and sharing with others” in person, which CU Presents hopes to continue in the new season in the fall of 2020, featuring rescheduled student recitals and the artist series, which will include The King’s Singers (CUI review here), Wynton Marsalis and the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain.
“We will be back,” Braun said. “We’ll be delighted to see everybody as soon as it’s safe to be together.”
Contact CU Independent Arts Editor Isabella Fincher at firstname.lastname@example.org.