From the moment that audience members enter the Montana Theatre for Montana Lyric Opera’s production of “The Marriage of Figaro,” it is clear that this won’t be a traditional production of Mozart’s most famous comedy.
In front of the stage curtain, an enormous, white, lower-case ‘r’ lays precariously toppled above the orchestra pit – the scantest fragment of an unformed idea.
The orchestra begins to play the opera’s overture – itself a series of fragments of musical ideas – and the curtain rises to reveal more letters: an ‘a’ and an ‘e’ tilted sideways, an ‘o,’ and an ‘m’ laid on its back. As the small but well-drilled orchestra dashes toward the overture’s finale under the baton of conductor Luis Millan, a group of people in peasant-like clothing scurry on stage and rearrange the letters – though still into nothing that resembles a word.
Thus the stage is set for a distinctly modern production of one of the most enduringly beloved operas in history, a 225-year-old comedy in which mixed-up words, misinterpretations, and concealment form the very basis of the humor and beauty before aligning themselves into the ultimate meaning of it all. [Read More...]
It’s known as one of the most rollicking comic operas in all of history; and this summer, it will come to Missoula. Montana Lyric Opera has announced that tickets go on sale today for its production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” which runs at the Montana Theatre on the University of Montana campus August 10, 12, and 14.
The centerpiece of Montana Lyric Opera’s third annual Summer Opera Festival, the production promises a full immersion in Mozart’s classic score, with full sets, costumes, and a pit orchestra, said Luis Millan, music director for the Missoula-based professional opera company.
“It’s simply one of the great operas; that’s the most basic reason we chose to do it,” said Millan, who will conduct the performances. “It has this broad public appeal, with beautiful music, a funny story; and it’s touching in the end.” [Read More...]
Today, the Missoulian ran a review of Montana Lyric Opera’s production of “Madama Butterfly.” I’m on the board of directors so I couldn’t write it; but I was certainly both pleased and in agreement with Jamie Kelly’s assessment. You can read it, here.
Tickets are still available for performances tonight and Sunday at [...]
Last Friday night, I was sipping a beer amongst a packed crowd of people at the Badlander for Montana Lyric Opera’s performance of Opera on Draft when Creighton James, the opera company’s artistic director, approached me with a rather frazzled look in his eye.
“Could you come outside and talk for a minute?” he whispered in my ear. I followed him out into the foyer of the bar, where he turned to me.
“We’re in a real jam,” he said. “We don’t have anyone for the kid’s role in ‘Madama Butterfly,’ and I feel like I’ve exhausted all the other possibilities I have. What would you think of Julian doing it?”
I stood for a moment, so surprised that my ears were ringing. No, strike that; someone on the stage inside the bar was singing a high note. The music stopped, and the crowd began cheering and clapping.
My son? My three-year-old? In an opera?
“Uh,” I stammered, “well, I guess I’ll have to talk to him.” [Read More...]
If Jeff Kitto looks more like a rock star than a stereotypical opera singer, there’s good reason: He almost was a rock star. If he exudes the easygoing gregariousness of your favorite bartender, there’s good reason for that, too: For years, as he built his career as a singer, he split time between tending bar and flying out to perform in opera productions around the country.
But if you think Montana couldn’t possibly be home to world-class opera singers, just wait ‘til Jeff Kitto opens his mouth. [Read More...]
On a hot July evening last summer, an eclectic crowd of Western Montanans filtered into the University Theatre on the UM campus and found their seats for the opening performance of Montana Lyric Opera’s production of Verdi’s opera, Rigoletto.
In a way, it was one of those quintessentially Missoula moments: grown men in shorts and Hawaiian print shirts found their seats next to kids dressed in their Sunday best; doctors and rockers shared armrests; people waved across the auditorium and chatted with old friends. Take off the roof and remove the plush chairs, and it could have been just another Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market
Except it wasn’t that. Because it was also one of those unique Missoula moments, when the city’s newest performing arts organization staged the centerpiece of the first-ever Western Montana Summer Opera Festival. [Read More...]
TONS happening this week in the Missoula opera scene — and who would have ever thought I’d be saying THAT?
First off, in today’s Entertainer, Jamie Kelly wrote up next week’s return of Opera on Draft, the popular pub series of performances put on by Montana Lyric Opera, which returns to the Badlander next Wednesday, and to the Craggy Range in Whitefish next Thursday. I’m a board member, so I guess I’m biased; but one of the reasons I love MLO is this series, which I think does a great job of breaking down stereotypes about opera and making it plain fun and easy to digest (especially washed down with a PBR — one of the sponsors!).
Here’s a video from one of the earlier Opera on Draft shows:
Then, on Saturday and Sunday, the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series returns to the Roxy Theatre with screenings of Rossini’s opera, “Armida.” Notably, it stars Reneé Fleming, probably the most famous (some would say greatest) living soprano (and frequent emcee of the Live in HD series). Should be awesome. You can find out details here.
Lastly, tickets go on sale this Saturday, May 1, for Montana Lyric Opera’s production of “Madama Butterfly.” This is gonna be a truly awesome production, fully costumed and staged. Tickets will be available at www.MTOpera.org. Here’s the full press release with information on that: [Read More...]
Sheila Sorge still remembers that day when she first noticed that her granddaughter loved to sing. It was Christmas Eve, and Emily Peragine was only three years old. The congregation at her church began singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and young Emily began singing along.
“She didn’t know any of the words, she couldn’t read, but she could just sing,” recalls Sorge. “People kept turning around looking at this little thing standing on the pew. You could tell she had an ear and loved it.”
Nowadays, people rarely have to turn around to hear Emily sing. The senior at Hellgate High School has become a regular fixture on stages around town, filling auditoriums with the bright vibrato of her arrestingly powerful voice. Trained as a coloratura soprano – a highly ornamented style of classical singing — she has set her sights on a career that few people from this region of the country even realize is viable in the modern world: Peragine aims to become an opera singer. [Read More...]
Since I’m playing in Montana Lyric Opera’s production of “Rigoletto,” I couldn’t actually review it, as I’m far from objective. However, this afternoon in my email, I received an entertaining review of Thursday’s opening performance. The production concludes Saturday with a performance at the University Theatre; tickets are still available at MTOpera.org. Click through to read the review… [Read More...]
The Missoulian is looking for four opera “newbies” — people who have never seen an opera before — to interview about their experience at Thursday’s performance of “Rigoletto” at the University Theatre. Be one of the first four people to call me at 239 5649 and you can have a free ticket. The [...]