It’s not an everyday occurrence that an opera singer gets to perform with a live orchestra, but this weekend, Chautauqua Opera Company’s Young Artists get to do just that.
Chautauqua Opera will perform pieces from well-known composers with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for the Opera Highlights concert at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, July 14, in the Amphitheater.
“It is a unique thing that they get here,” said Steven Osgood, general and artistic director for Chautauqua Opera.
When programming the concert, Chautauqua Opera’s music administrator and chorus master Carol Rausch took Week Three’s theme, “The Art of Play,” into consideration. Most of the pieces have some aspect of playfulness to them, whether it’s the lyrics or the characters.
Each of Chautauqua Opera’s Apprentice Artists will sing a solo and perform in an ensemble. Before the works were selected for the concert, those singing submit some songs from their repertoire that they would like to perform with the orchestra. That gives Chautauqua Opera an idea of what each artist can do and focuses the concert on pieces that fit the theme.
“We want an entertaining night for the audience, and we want pieces that showcase our Young Artists well,” Rausch said.
The concert features songs from popular composers like Beethoven and Offenbach. CSO and Chautauqua Opera will even perform a drinking song, “Vivat Bacchus!” from Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
Osgood said there is something for everyone in this concert. If someone doesn’t like one piece, they might not have to wait long to hear a work they do like.
The concert also gives the CSO a chance to play a different variety of selections.
“The program that we get is so unique,” Osgood said. “We would never make up this program but for the confluences and influences, and I think that that variety of repertoire is fun for the CSO players.”
The “Opera Highlights” concert will feature the premiere of Composer- in-Residence George Lam’s piece “Underwater Acoustics.” Lam set Rajiv Mohabir’s poem of the same name to music. Mohabir was Chautauqua’s Week Three poet-in-residence. The piece will be performed by mezzo-soprano Alexandra Rodrick.
“I’m really excited to feel how it’s going to feel because I think there are so many amazing, beautiful colors that are discovered in the orchestration,” Rodrick said.
Mohabir’s poem is personal, but on the surface, it’s about the ocean and its vastness, Lam said. That’s the aspect he said he tried to capture in the piece.
After learning he was to be Chautauqua Opera’s composer-in-residence, Lam visited the Institution to hear the CSO and Chautauqua Opera perform. With an outside venue like the Amp, Lam said there are a lot of ambient noises, including the night winds and conversations of people walking around.
Those sounds and the expansive nature of the Amp add to the experience of listening to “Underwater Acoustics,” Lam said.
“I lucked out in that this poem, I think, fits well with that idea (of expansiveness), which then fits really well with the idea of an outdoor concert in the Amphitheater,” Lam said.