Sweet Land: The Show Must Go On

Posted on: April 6, 2020

By: Brittany Campbell, Public Engagement Manager and Ben Fitzsimmons, Associate Director of Programs and Research

Artistic endeavors are essential today more than ever and the Autry actively works to include the many voices of the creative communities of the American West through partnerships and public programming initiatives. We were excited to hear that The Industry, an artist-driven company creating experimental productions that expand the definition of opera, was developing an opera exploring the myths of American identity and the erasure of certain stories. Sweet Land was co-directed by long-standing Autry collaborator, artist Cannupa Hanska Luger, who participated in a fascinating panel at the Autry on the concepts and creation of the opera, along with his co-director Yuval Sharon, and co-composer Raven Chacon.

(audio recording of panel below)

Audio Clips: 

Sweet Land: Creating a Contemporary Opera Panel Discussion

The Autry was also a presenting partner for Sunday Sessions, a new model for inclusion developed for the run of Sweet Land to expand participation in the larger experience. These pre-show events featured free performances by local poets drawn from the Autry’s ties to the Los Angeles poetry community, reflecting on the land and cultures of this area. Held directly on the set of Sweet Land, these Angelenos shared their voice with a broad audience, setting a new standard for the inclusive capabilities of opera and the stories it tells. Many of these poets will be participating in the Autry’s upcoming online poetry series Poets in Place (details coming soon.)

Unfortunately, as a result of the social distancing regulations following the COVID-19 outbreak, the final performances of Sweet Land were cancelled, but The Industry filmed one last show for streaming on their website to those who were unable to see the opera. The innovative production format used two different audience tracks to tell two different stories and both tracks are now available for a modest on-demand fee. http://stream.sweetlandopera.com/

So take this opportunity to discover the unique production of Sweet Land, listen to the creators as they discuss their artistic vision, and experience this multi-faceted exploration of American identity, at a time when we need the arts and the arts need us.