Profile: Ben Robinson

By Brittney Cooper, March 23, 2021
Brittney Cooper (They/She), Cinema and Photography B.S. '23

Blog posting written by Brittney Cooper (They/She), Cinema and Photography with Minors in Gender Studies and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies, '23, FLEFF Intern, Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania

My experience with opera previous to this past month consisted of a one-credit class last spring that ended up cancelled due to campus shutdown. The small window I had in a large opera-filled world had me excitedly waiting for my zoom call with Ben Robinson, artistic director of Opera Ithaca, to begin.

The questions opened with Opera Ithaca’s mission so I could begin to piece together the similarities between Opera Ithaca and FLEFF. While the similarities between Opera Ithaca and FLEFF became apparent, I also learned that we shared one quality in our choice of organization. I choose to work with FLEFF because of the diversity in the work and he landed at Opera Ithaca under the same reason.

Ben Robison describes Opera Ithaca’s mission as “committed to producing work by female composers,” due to the lack of gender equity in the opera industry. He continues on to say opera as an art has always been dominated by Eurocentric white men and, therefore, they give a voice to composers “have systemically been cut off from being able to give their voice.”

Opera Ithaca exemplifies their dedication of gender diversity through the season programing. Since its founding, the company continues to be the only one in “North America that has presented a work by a female composer,” every season. As the artistic director, one of Robinson’s responsibilities is to oversee the programming for each season and continues to be a moving force on the road to gender equity in opera. The most recent work from Opera Ithaca consisted of a zoom performance of Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schinni

Ben Robinson will be participating in the “Why Opera? Why Now?” panel March 30th, starting at 7:00pm ET. At the panel, the speakers will discuss in depth the work Opera Ithaca has done in the past and plans to do for the future.