Airbnb Helps Underwrite Opera

I am happy to announce that Airbnb, the online service connecting hosts with travelers worldwide, is supporting the Cubanacan opera production next month in Havana.

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As you may have heard, Airbnb is one of the first U.S.-based companies to begin operating in Cuba following President Obama’s dramatic announcement opening up relations between the two countries on December 17, 2014.

You can read about Airbnb’s launch in Cuba here and here.

As it happened I was in Havana when the announcement was made. Several friends said they saw the news on Cuban TV.

Legal and licensed casa particulares have been a convenient, affordable alternative in to hotels for many years. Now it will be even easier to locate them, and make reservations and payments.

Airbnb has a long-standing commitment to the arts and to design. Our partnership came together quickly and easily. The timing between their bold new move and the opera opening could not have been better. I am excited to have Airbnb as a partner for the opera premiere at the 2015 Havana Bienal.

I depart in a few days for Havana to continue preparations for the opera performances. I plan to post updates as they happen.

Rehearsing in Havana

I arrived in Havana a week ago to continue preparations for the opening of the opera on May 21 at the 2015 Havana Bienal. It’s been great to have Charles Chemin, the director, here with me from Paris.

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Director, Charles Chemin.

Before even arriving in Cuba our trip began auspiciously in Miami when we met with a representative of the Florida Grand Opera, which is interested in finding out more about the project.

On our first day in Havana we met with all the department heads to get acquainted, discuss the general approach, and plan for our ten-day stay.

The next day we all went out to ISA, the art schools, where the performances will take place.

The Team visits the School of Plastic Arts where the performances will take place. L-R: Majito, production manager; Adejo, sound engineer; Roberto, composer; Carlos, ISA liaison; Manolo, lighting designer; Edelso, translator.

The Team visits the School of Plastic Arts where the performances will take place. L-R: Majito, production manager; Adejo, sound engineer; Roberto, composer; Carlos, ISA liaison; Manolo, lighting designer; Edelso, translator.

After lots of looking, measuring, pointing and thinking we came up with a plan for where the stage will be built, how the lighting will be arranged, and so forth.

Int Lyrico w wallThen we set up shop at the Teatro Lyrico, a gorgeous four-story baroque-style structure, home to the Cuban National Opera, next door to the Fireman’s Museum in Centro Havana. This week Carmen was in the house.

Director Charles Chemin works with singers first day of rehearsal at Teatrico Lyrico, Havana.

Director Charles Chemin works with singers first day of rehearsal at Teatro Lyrico, Havana.

The first sessions went very well. Everyone was excited to get underway. Lots of work ahead!