As Season Comes to Close, Chautauqua Opera’s Young Artists to Present Annual Scenes Program

Chautauqua Opera Company Young Artists Scott Purcell, baritone, left, and Jordan Loyd, tenor, perform a scene from “Of Mice and Men” Wednesday, July 31, 2019 in Norton Hall during a rehearsal of Chautauqua Opera’s Studio Opera Scenes Program. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

For opera singers, scenes and characters are built in the rehearsal room. With each opera they tackle, there’s a sense of trust between scene partners as they develop their characters, and the rehearsal room, according to Stage Director Sara Widzer, is a safe place.

In the annual Opera Scenes program, 16 of Chautauqua Opera Company’s Young Artists are changing up the rehearsal process to present opera scenes — in full costume and makeup. Widzer said despite the sped-up rehearsal process, the Young Artists have become comfortable with the scenes because of their past work with one another.

“We don’t have a normal rehearsal process to lead up to certain scenes,” Widzer said. “We’re just jumping it — but they have seven weeks of life together to get to know each other.”

At 4 p.m. today, August 2, in Norton Hall, the Young Artists will grace the stage with individually developed parts of famous operas for the Opera Scenes program. Widzer is joined by Chautauqua Opera guest artist Marco Nisticò — who played Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville and Louis XVI in The Ghosts of Versailles — to direct the program.

Earlier this season, Young Artists performed in the annual Sing-In, where they simply sang an opera number. In this program, there are seven scenes in which Young Artists will perform in duets or trios. Widzer said because they aren’t performing whole operas, the performance brings certain expectations of production value.

“If you give too much production value, there is a different expectation set,” she said. “If you don’t give enough, then you have to find what is just enough.”

From Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men to Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the Young Artists are set to cover a vast amount operatic repertoire. The program will begin with a scene from Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti’s La fille du régiment, called “Tous les trois réunis,” performed by soprano Cristina María Castro, tenor James Stevens and bass-baritone Michael Colman.

The program will end with a duet between soprano Natalie Trumm and tenor Brian Jeffers, as they perform a piece from William Schwenck Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance called “Stay, Frederic, Stay!” and “Oh, here is love.” Nisticò said the performances range from three to 15 minutes long.

“The longest one, I think, is the I Capuleti e I Montecchi — basically Romeo and Juliet — by Vincenzo Bellini,” Nisticò said. “Stylistically, it’s something that most young singers aren’t necessarily familiar with, so it requires some work.”

Each of the performers have worked together throughout the season.

“It’s impressive to see the relationship that they’ve managed to create,” Nisticò said. “The familiarity is already there; the history (between them) is there.”

Nisticò said the Young Artists have proved themselves throughout the season, so this program just adds to the wide variety of things they have accomplished.

“Chautauquans will see once again, the quality art that these singers produce will be reconfirmed,” he said. “People that have been to the shows have already seen how high quality these artists are.”
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The author Tina Giuliano

Tina Giuliano is a rising junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix, where she studies broadcast journalism and Spanish. She serves as the multimedia managing editor at her school’s paper, The State Press. She is excited to begin covering opera for the Daily. When she’s not diving into her journalism career, she’s probably rewatching “The Office,” at a soccer game or figuring out which flavor of ice cream to eat.