The Moss Arts Center’s 2019-20 performance season puts women at the forefront, among them opera superstar Renee Fleming.

“This year we welcome a dynamic group of female artists across all genres who are leaders and innovators,” wrote Moss spokeswoman Susan Bland.

A winner of multiple Grammy Awards and recipient of the National Medal of the Arts, Fleming established herself as an international star after winning the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 1988. She has performed in all the world’s major opera houses and lent her voice to movie soundtracks, even recording jazz and rock albums. The Pennsylvania native’s recital, sure to be a big box office draw for the center, happens in February 2020.

Though Fleming is easily the best-known name in the season lineup, she’s only one example of the “fierce women,” as promotional materials put it, who will take the center’s stage. Others include the all-woman ensembles Nobuntu, from Zimbabwe, and Flor de Toloache, who play traditional mariachi instruments. There’s choreography examining the experiences of black women from New York-based Camille A. Brown & Dancers and a talk by anthropologist and National Geographic wildlife correspondent Mireya Mayor.

“There’s so much conversation going on nationally in our country right now, throughout all of the arts, visual arts, performing arts, about equal representation of women,” said Moss executive director Ruth Waalkes. “There’s conversations happening in chamber music, in orchestras, looking at repertoire by women composers. There’s just a really heightened awareness of the inequities and the lack of equal representation through so many areas.”

Waalkes noted another factor that makes the theme timely. 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women in the U.S. the right to vote.

The season’s offerings aren’t exclusively governed by this theme. New features such as a series of “National Geographic Live” talks mingle with the chamber music concerts, modern dance performances and experimental theater productions that have been staples at the center since its founding. Roanoke Symphony Orchestra returns with its ever-popular “Holiday Pops.” In 2020, the center will host travelling Broadway shows.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem, which concluded the center’s 2013-14 inaugural season, leaps first this year with a performance that includes a new work commissioned by the Virginia Arts Festival.

Mike Allen writes the Arts & Extras column for The Roanoke Times. The beat he covers includes visual art, classical music, opera, theater, dance, literature, museums and other arts and cultural nonprofits, and things even more eclectic.

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