"The truth in their voices . . ."
Many try but few are chosen. Of the over 700 auditions across the United States this year for Opera North's Resident Artist Program, only 16 individuals were selected. If my math is correct, that means that the rate of acceptance into the program settles in at about 2.2%. Those are formidable odds.
The numbers give some indication of the level of talent, but the Resident Artist Showcase held recently at the Lebanon United Methodist Church in Lebanon NH offered up the real proof. This was the inaugural event of Opera North's Summerfest 2017, which runs from July 8 to August 13. It is the annual opportunity to introduce these young artists to the Upper Valley community. They populate the cast of one of the three productions, Offenbach's La belle Hélène and will also appear in supporting roles in Madama Butterfly and Kiss Me Kate. Artistic Director Louis Burkot is already praising their versatility and what he called "the truth in their voices."
Pianist and vocal coach Brendon Shapiro, assistant director and tenor Dashiell Waterbury, and baritone Bradley Christiansen
The evening proceeded as 13 performers, one by one, introduced themselves and the piece they were going to sing, beginning with mezzo soprano Emily Geller's "revenge aria" from Semele by Handel. Their voices were beautiful and their stage presence undeniable, and they brought such professionalism to their performances before a shoulder-to-shoulder audience in this small church. Baritone Nathan Matticks absolutely sold his Cortigiani from Rigoletto. Cara Collins, resplendent in red, vamped her way through the audience singing Carmen's Habanera.
Director Evans Haile has made it his mission to embed Opera North throughout the Upper Valley. This year, the shows' scenery is being put together in Windsor VT. The artists were on to another concert at the historic Fells Estate in Newbury NH, scheduled for the night after the showcase. Coming up on Saturday, July 15 is a birthday celebration for Opera North at the Blow-Me-Down-Farm in Cornish NH, presented in partnership with the National Park Service. Admission is free, gates open at 3:00 p.m. with the Opera's performance at 4:30 p.m. Haile has promised that lobster rolls will be on the menu, and that the show will go on, rain or shine. Other events include:
---Lake Sunapee Musical Dinner Cruise in Sunapee NH on Thursday, July 20 at 6:00 p.m.
---Celebrating America's Songbook at the brand new Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro VT, Sunday July 23 at 5:00 p.m.
Full productions at the Lebanon Opera House in Lebanon NH begin with Kiss Me Kate on Saturday, July 29. La belle Hélène opens on Tuesday, August 1, and Madama Butterfly on Friday, August 4. Each of the two operas will be performed on 4 different evenings; the musical Kiss Me Kate will have 6 performances. Operas have supertitles in English.
For tickets and further information, check out Opera North's website.
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