Written and interviewed by AVA Development and Alumni Relations Coordinator Stephen Edwards-Trygar
Rehearsals for the Academy of Vocal Arts’ new production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale have been underway for the past few weeks! Since we began, AVA has been abuzz with excitement, thanks to some phenomenal publicity opportunities. From radio to television to TikTok and Instagram, AVA has been the talk of the town, and it is because of the extraordinary efforts of Camille Mola, AVA’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations. Camille took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with me about her approach to promoting our winter opera and to give insight into what goes on behind the scenes.
Starting out as an intern in 2014, Camille was quickly brought on full-time as AVA’s Development Associate. By 2017, her unmatched skills in publicity and tremendous passion for the arts granted her a promotion to Director of Marketing and Public Relations. Camille is also a freelance content creator and the founder of Positive Publicity Blog, an independent Philadelphia-based lifestyle blog that has been named a Top 25 Philadelphia Blog by Feedspot for four consecutive years.
It has been an incredibly exciting time in the Marketing Department here at the Academy of Vocal Arts since we began staging or new production of Don Pasquale! What has been your approach to marketing this timeless classic?
“It has certainly been an exciting few weeks! So, when I first heard that this production was going to be set in 1960s South Philadelphia, my mind immediately began racing with ideas. I was so excited about this and knew that we had an opportunity to have fun with the marketing of it. Director Richard Troxell had such a vision when it came to this production, and it has been wonderful to work with him in making this production come to life before the public even sees it.
“The setting of this opera really did most of the work for me. My job was to then draw Philadelphia audiences in and try to convey through our messaging a nostalgic, familiar feeling. That was what I really wanted to come across in our messaging, that feeling of sitting on plastic covered furniture at your great aunt’s house and those Sunday night family dinners.
“I also want to mention that I sat in during a rehearsal the other day and let me just say how funny this production is. It has also been such a joy to see how much fun the Resident Artists are having on stage, and that will certainly come across to audiences.”
Don Pasquale is one of AVA’s most frequently performed operas, with the last production staged in the 2008-09 season. What have been some of the benefits and/or challenges that you faced when trying to market this opera to an audience that has likely seen it many times?
“I believe this is AVA’s ninth production of Pasquale! I was actually not very familiar with the opera prior to our season announcement, which was actually a bit beneficial for me. I was able to look at the opera with a fresh pair of eyes, so I considered what would entice me to come see this opera, which I suppose is both a benefit and challenge. The fresh-take of a Philadelphia setting was only a plus!”
Piggybacking off of that last question, how are you approaching this opera for new patrons and audiences?
“At the end of the day, my biggest goal with marketing any opera is to make sure audiences feel included and comfortable. It can be an intimidating art form, especially if it’s your first time going to an opera, and it’s my job to make it an accessible and enjoyable experience from start to finish.”
What are some of the major pieces of press that you have engaged in since beginning to promote Don Pasquale?
“We have some entertaining TV segments coming up, so stay tuned for those. An added bonus was being able to appear on WMMR’s Preston and Steve Show (watch here around the 1:58:00 mark), where we not only got to chat about Don Pasquale, but also sing “Fly Eagles Fly” (and hang out with Brent Celek!). And once dress rehearsals begin, I know we’ll have some fun on social media.”
Those who know you know how much you love the city of Philadelphia. Has the setting of our new production changed your approach to promoting this opera?
“I really do love this city so much, and I love being able to highlight the things that make this city so unique and special. I come from an Italian family (who are from West Philly), so this was familiar territory for me. I tried to recall what it was like growing up in that type of setting, and the first thing that came to mind were so many black-and-white photos everywhere, which led us to our advertising design being like looking at a family scrapbook.
“Richard Troxell said something the other day that really rang true. Even if you’re not a Philadelphia Italian-American, there is something that everyone will relate to in this production. We all have an ‘I know a guy’ person in our lives; we all have or know a wild uncle – there’s something so universal about that.
“I think it’s safe to say that this production is close to my heart, and I know audiences will embrace this love letter to Philadelphia.
“Finally, if you haven’t already, be sure to follow us over on TikTok @ avaopera. And Go Birds!”
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