© 2023 WRTI
Your Classical and Jazz Source
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Focusing on New Musical Theater & Opera, Center City Opera Theater Is Re-Branded as VULCAN LYRIC

Vulcan Lyric's 2015 Festival is showcasing four productions, including HEATHERS: The Musical. The Festival at the Prince Theater runs from July 30th through August 16th.

Center City Opera Theater is rising again after a two-year hiatus, now under the name of Vulcan Lyric...and it's not all opera. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports that the Festival has expanded its offerings.

David Patrick Stearns: This teenage off-Broadway musical, titled Heathers: The Musical, based on the cult film of the same name, is a fair distance from the company that Andrew Kurtz originally built in years past with seasons that featured Rigoletto mixed in with newer works such as A Picture of Dorian Grey. And Kurtz is the first to say so.

Andrew Kurtz: That was one of the reasons we actually changed our name from Center City Opera Theater to Vulcan Lyric. It's just Vulcan Lyric. Because we're not doing only opera, and we'll probably be doing about 50/50 going forward. And we're going to be commissioning and developing new musical theater.

DPS: What about the Vulcan part? Like Star Trek Vulcan?

AK: Vulcan is the Roman god of forging and creation.

DPS: What's being melded is the new music activities of Center City Opera and the defunct American Music Theater Festival, which was later named the Prince Music Theater - also the name of the venue on Chestnut Street (now called Prince Theater) that this new company will inhabit during the July 30 through Aug. 16 Festival.

The building itself wasn't a key component to the Vulcan Lyric resurrection, especially since the theater went through a complex series of bankruptcy-related ups and downs in which Vulcan's contractual agreement was lost in the shuffle. Then, the theater became the home to the Philadelphia Film Society, which welcomed Vulcan Lyric.

AK: Honestly, it created a huge problem. Then out of the blue I got a call from the Philadelphia Film Society saying, "Were you still interested in the building?" So then we switched plans again in April.

DPS: That's really short notice in the opera world, especially when the season contains a full-length world premiere titled Maren of Vardo, the story of a young Norwegian witch falling in love with Satan. It will play in repertory with an opera about a returning prisoner of war, titled Glory Denied. Plus the lush, romantic Rappaccini's Daughter by the late Daniel Catan. Heady stuff, and a daunting undertaking in such a concentrated period of time. The goal is to create critical mass.

AK: With summer being the height of the tourist season here, Philadelphia, the fifth largest city and one of the top cultural destinations in the country, it just seemed very logical that we could get people able to come and visit the city, go to the art museum, go to the Barnes, enjoy our fabulous restaurants and then come to our shows.

DPS: In years past, news of any new operatic premiere was greeted by traditional Philadelphia theater goers with. "New opera? Good heavens! Don't we have enough operas already?" It's a niche market. Can it accommodate a festival of this size?