By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance
Vocalist, educator, and Hartford supporter Dr. Michelle Fiertek is Executive Director at Hartford Opera Theater and Interim Executive Director and Director of Music Programs, Hartt Community Division, at The Hartt School, University of Hartford. Here, she voices what Hartford means to the opera community and for her personally.
DR. MICHELLE FIERTEK: Hartford has always been city of expansion, innovation, and revitalization and the opera world needs to be part of that spirit.
And what better place than a thriving arts community to add opera, to be another voice, another artistic way of expressing ourselves as a city? So, Hartford Opera Theater’s journey has just been about: How can we connect more? What can we offer? How often can we do it? How can we grow? Hartford is the obvious answer because it’s the center of our Connecticut universe. It’s the center from which the spokes of the wheel can come away.
How have you integrated with the city and how has Hartford become a part of you?
MICHELLE: I grew up here and I love Connecticut. For me, Hartford has become part of my life artistically and musically.
What makes Hartford unique?
MICHELLE: Hartford offers a city experience with everything at your fingertips—history and innovation. It’s inspiring.
One of the things that’s so enjoyable about Hartford is the walking accessibility. I can be working and singing at a church. I can walk across the street and go to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. And I can walk a little further and check out an innovative new coffee shop, like Semilla Café + Studio. So, you have great theaters, great restaurants, great coffee houses, great art museums, and access to great musical performances happening all within walking distance.
This city is alive with really talented people trying to make amazing things happen. You feel the energy of the city and it’s something that makes you want to be a part of it. Because we are all, as artists and creators, looking for that synergy and that collaboration—and all the people here are trying to work together and know each other and collaborate.
How do you tell the story of Hartford?
MICHELLE: Hartford Opera Theater tells human stories on stage. That’s why it’s so important for us to be tapped into the community, to tell the stories of the community, which is something we’re striving for every day.
We’re telling the stories of the people. And they’re not specific stories, they’re stories of the heartbeat of the city. What does it mean to be a person? What does it mean to give back to the world? What does it mean to work well with others? What does it mean to struggle in your own life? What does it mean to lead and to be a leader? That’s what it means to be telling the story of Hartford for us. It’s sharing many personal stories and struggles and celebrations and providing an artistic voice for them.