Eugene Opera Academy: Review of 2016-17 Season

 

This year’s Academy started off with a bang.  We first met with students on September 29, 2016, to get oriented, register, and prepare for upcoming events surrounding the Eugene Opera’s first production, Berlioz’ Much Ado About Nothing.

conference room

After that meeting, students had the opportunity to attend two related public events: a film presentation of Kenneth Branagh’s version of the Shakespeare play at the Eugene Public Library, and then a lecture-demo by Sparky Roberts and her Fools Haven Company.

On October 15, the students attended the first rehearsal of Berlioz’ opera, when Mark Beudert introduced the chorus and principals to each other and started staging.

Mark

The students were visibly shocked at the strength of these 3 leads’ voices!!

The following week, Mark presented a public lecture about the opera, to which students were invited.

Then, on October 26, the students attended the dress rehearsal in the Soreng Theatre.   First, they visited the backstage area of the Hult Center with Academy Chair & chorister, Barbara Myrick.

Then, they talked with Amy Adams, Director of Education and Community Engagement, before the dress rehearsal about what they were going to see…

…after which they watched the dress rehearsal. A few days later, all this preparation culminated in the Academy attending the light-hearted performance of Berlioz’ Much Ado about Nothing (Béatrice et Bénédict).

On November 15, the Academy met to prepare for the next production called “Opera Trio, which was an evening of single acts from Aïda by Giuseppe Verdi, Dialogues of the Carmelites by Francis Poulenc, and Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss.

After a couple of public events preparing them for “Opera Trio,” they attended several staging rehearsals to see how the show was put together and to have roundtable sessions with the artists, who shared their stories of how they got into opera as a career.

Students also saw the orchestra rehearsal and talked with Music Director Andrew Bisantz.

One student, Ananda Burke, had a surprise when the entire opera chorus and cast sang “Happy Birthday” to her in multiple-part harmony!

Finally, dress rehearsal was preceded by a backstage tour of the Silva stage, given by Amy Adams.

At a de-brief session after attending the “Trio” performance, students were disappointed to learn that the opera was suspending the rest of the season! They were especially looking forward to West Side Story. They had many ideas to help the opera and didn’t want to quit, so the Education Committee arranged for two more opera events to attend: UO Opera Ensemble’s production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, and the Metropolitan Opera live-in HD streaming of Verdi’s La Traviata at Cinemark.

Finally, the year was capped off with four students presenting projects and awarding of their certificates. For the first time, this was a public event. Ananda Burke, Aharon Melloul and Owen McCoy all performed solos related to opera, and Isabel Renich presented a staged version of a Trio from an opera she is writing, involving other Academy students and Annie Huie as director.

All projects were well-prepared and it was exciting to see the culmination of this unusual year!