The Factotum

37 3Arts supporters
$10,271 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on July 18, 2020
    • 205% contributed

As a professional opera singer, I’ve always felt that this classic art form can do better to engage youth of color. With this campaign, I’m hoping to help do that by adapting Rossini’s The Barber of Seville to a modern-day barbershop on Chicago’s South Side. At the heart of this work, called The Factotum, is an iconic and relatable story that I think will translate perfectly to this time and this setting. I’m collaborating with an old friend and musical producer, Rocket Jackson, to develop a libretto and arrangement that draws upon opera but also hip-hop, R&B, and gospel. In addition to introducing more young people to the operatic tradition, our hope is that The Factotum will expand audiences for this art form over time and bring opera to new heights. I fully realize this will be an ambitious undertaking, but I believe in this project and I feel that many people in the music community share my vision for a vibrant future of opera. With your help we’ll be able to take important next steps including hiring collaborators to help refine the story, instrumentation, musical notation, and stage presentation so that we can produce a professional reading of The Factotum some time in 2021.

About This Project

I grew up listening to and playing a lot of gospel music on the piano. I never studied composition, but I learned to arrange and compose because of my gospel background. As I got older, I dove into R&B, funk, and hip-hop music. I was introduced to opera because I attended the Governor’s School for the Arts in high school. My collaborator, Rocket Jackson, is one of my closest friends from that school and we both studied opera there. He switched to jazz music and went on to be a producer. I went on to sing opera professionally. We both reconnected in New York City almost twelve years later out of the blue. I was performing the role of Figaro in The Barber of Seville several times that season, and the idea came to me to present an updated version of this opera classic.

Since then we’ve worked tirelessly on the storyline and eventually started to create music in Rocket’s studio. The next big step in our project is taking what we have and presenting it in the form of a staged reading. In order to accomplish this, we need financial support to hire singers, musicians, and a skilled professional in music notation, and to secure a venue. We are working with Mary Birnbaum, a professional opera director and Juilliard educator, to help us continue improving our storyline. I will be taking on the role of composer and performer at this stage of the creative process, and we would like to present this reading here in Chicago. The staged reading of this project will be roughly an hour long.

Both Rocket and I share a vision of reaching young people of color through music that they can relate to.  Additionally, we’re excited to present this adaptation to traditional opera fans because they will recognize the story’s parallels and certain musical quotes from Rossini’s original that we use throughout the piece.

More so these days, opera companies around the country have come up with different outreach ideas to make opera more diverse accessible. While many of these efforts are worthwhile, what we’re trying to do with The Factotum is something more. This opera is developed specifically for youth of color. By donating to this project, you are saying that you care about the future of opera and the new directions that the art form can take. We believe this project can serve as a gateway to get youth of color interested in this classic and beloved art form. Thank you for helping me realize this dream and bring The Factotum to life.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $20
    Shout-out on social media ($20.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above, plus signed CDs of my album "Okpebholo: Steal Away," featuring reimagined spirituals, and my newest release "Whither Must I Wander" ($30.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Above, plus an exclusive invitation to a virtual in-studio work session via Zoom with me and Rocket to get a glimpse into how the show is developing ($80.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Above, plus a one-hour voice lesson OR a personalized vocal greeting created by Will for a friend of your choice ($170.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Above, plus two tickets to the private reading of "The Factotum" in Chicago and an invitation to a 'meet and greet' with the artists at a post-reception ($360.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000
    Above, plus a private home recital performed by Will ($360.00 is tax deductible.)

Will Liverman

Stan Lipkin & Evelyn Appell Lipkin Awardee

Called “one of the most versatile singing artists performing today” (Bachtrack), baritone Will Liverman is a recipient of a 2019 Richard Tucker Career Grant and Sphinx Medal of Excellence.  

Recent engagements include his return to the Metropolitan …

View Will Liverman's profile
  • Update 1: STRETCH GOAL
    Posted on June 07, 2020


    STRETCH GOAL! A BIG thank you to those of you who have contributed to this project and helped us reach our initial goal! We are now able to aim for a stretch goal of $10,000. These additional funds will be used to help give this opera project a digital platform, as well as a live platform. It will ensure that we're able to hire a professional videographer, hire a professional photographer, and acquire high quality recording equipment. This will give us complete creative freedom to achieve everything that we envision for this project. We can stand to reach a bigger audience in that way and we're very excited about the possibility to explore these things. In light of everything that has happened in this country, we need projects like this now more than ever to enrich our communities and engage our youth. 

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Mesha Arant

    • Anna Laurenzo

    • debbie wright

    • Meaghan Stainback

    • Meg Stoltz

    • Jennifer Colgan

    • Leah Bobbey

    • Kennise Herring

    • Nancy Fritz

    • Juliet Muccillo

    • Ed Swift

    • Allen Freedman

    • Terrell Brown

    • Jonathan Wilson

    • Sara Litchfield

    • Sphinx Organization

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Tynnetta McIntosh

    • Tekki Lomnicki

    • Marcia Festen

    • Pamela Crutchfield

    • Cynthia Bond

    • Katie Dowling

    • Mary Hopper

    • Sarah Najera

    • Daniel Horn

    • Sara Slawnik

    • Ardena Flippin

    • Mel Smith & Janet Carl Smith

    • Deborah Rodgers

    • Joseph Abdelmelek

    • Chet Kamin and Nancy Schaefer

    • Nancy Hueber

    • Parker Nelson

    • Abbey Ward

    • Amy Fleming

    • Anonymous Supporter

make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council