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Second Opera Invasion to be a virtual take on Opera Open Book

This season’s second virtual Opera Invasion will be a Choose Your Own Adventure of sorts.

“All of our events this summer are available on-demand, (so) whether or not you actually (watch) an event live doesn’t really matter,” said Steven Osgood, Chautauqua Opera’s general and artistic director. “However, this one does (matter): If you’re not there you can still watch it later, but you’re not going to be part of the decision making.”

Chautauqua Opera’s Opera Invasion #2: Opera Open Book, will air at 10 a.m. EDT Friday, July 24, on the CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch.

Opera Open Book is an event that has taken place every year since the invasions started in 2016. It began as a way for the Opera to showcase the expansive repertoire of its Young Artists.

“When they come into an audition, they bring in three or four or five pieces that they’re offering,” Osgood said. “While they may get to choose the first piece they sing, they certainly don’t get to pick the second or third pieces — that’s entirely up to the audition panel. They have to have this library of pieces that are not only good show pieces for them vocally, but that they can sing at the drop of a hat.”

In past Opera Open Books, a few Young Artists took over Odland Plaza while Chautauquans lined up to get into the Amphitheater for an evening performance. Each Young Artist came prepared with five songs from their collections, and Osgood let audience members choose what they wanted to hear out of the “menu” of songs, which the Young Artists would immediately perform.

“It allows our audience to really appreciate how nerve-wracking the experience (of auditioning) might be,” he said.

Due to the limits and variation of technology available to the Young Artists, they will not be performing live, but that element of spontaneity will still be present.

Of all the events we’re doing, this one is purposefully built to test the capacity for us to use this (virtual) platform, and for me not to mess things up,” he said. “It’s going to be partly fun just to see how many times I flirt with disaster in the course of the hour.”

The Young Artists have submitted pre-recorded videos performing arias from their audition repertoire. Using the Virtual Porch’s live polling and Q-and-A features, Osgood will survey viewers on what they want to hear.

“We’ll have all of the arias ready to go, we’re not telling the audience what they are, but I will ask the audience questions that lead to the decision of what the first piece will be, what the second piece will be (and so forth),” Osgood said. “(I’ll say), ‘Do you want to hear a tenor next or a mezzo soprano next?’ And we’ll take the voting and once that voting is in, I’ll say, ‘OK, it’s a tenor, from the tenor arias that are remaining there’s two English and one in French, do you want French or English?”

Osgood recommends that Chautauquans who want to help pick the first two arias tune in at least five minutes early. He’s only a little nervous about the event’s many moving parts.

“Of all the events we’re doing, this one is purposefully built to test the capacity for us to use this (virtual) platform, and for me not to mess things up,” he said. “It’s going to be partly fun just to see how many times I flirt with disaster in the course of the hour.”

Tags : Opera InvasionOpera Open BookSteven Osgoodyoung artists
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The author Eleanor Bishop

Eleanor Bishop is a Cincinnati native and rising senior studying journalism at Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College. She is excited to (virtually) return to the Daily for her second year, where she is covering visual arts, opera and dance. When she’s not writing, Eleanor enjoys comedy, pop music and staring wistfully out windows, thinking about how she should probably be writing.

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