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Opera

Songs of Britten, Russians featured in Artsongs recital

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This week’s Artsongs recital, held at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, will feature songs of famous Russian composers, as well as those of Benjamin Britten, a legendary 20th century British composer. The program will showcase the voices of three Young Artists: bass Heath Sorensen, mezzo Courtney Miller and soprano Kasey King, all new to the Chautauqua Opera Company.

Opera’s Lesenger sees his art as expression of spirituality

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Opera is part of Jay Lesenger’s soul, but his soul has been burdened lately. At 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy, Lesenger, the general and artistic director of the Chautauqua Opera, will explain the challenge the arts are facing right now. His lecture is titled “Opera as a Spiritual Journey: My Confession.” “I also will talk about the time that we’re in right now, which is a very difficult time,” Lesenger said. “Our souls are burdened now because of the economy and because of the lack of exposure to the arts in schools. So the focus will be on how we got there and the impact of what’s going on today.”

Opera singer Conrad fought racism with song

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Growing up in the segregated south, Barbara Smith Conrad knew firsthand the pain racial discrimination brought. She also knew firsthand the healing power of music. “Music absolutely saved my life,” Conrad said. Conrad grew up in a very musical environment, and singing was her passion. She came to the forefront of national attention in 1957, when she was forcibly removed from the cast of an opera production at the University of Texas.

Opera, with an American flavor

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The works of John Adams, Leonard Bernstein, Jonathan Dove, Benjamin Britten and Lee Hoiby, among many others, will be featured in the Opera Highlights concert, held at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in the Amphitheater. The performance will feature eight Apprentice Artists from the opera company’s Young Artists program and members of the CSO, under the baton of Steven Osgood.

A grand spectacle

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Following last season’s grand Norma, the Chautauqua Opera Company achieved even finer results Saturday evening with a fine but under-appreciated Giuseppe Verdi work that represents a midpoint between the bel canto style of Norma and the full-out “music drama” Verdi and Wagner were to develop later in the 19th century: 1849’s Luisa Miller. While, it’s never been a crowd-pleaser like Rigoletto or La traviata, it’s a passionate story — full of melodrama, but also full of feeling — and the music is wonderful, culminating in a third act that ranks among the great single acts in Verdi’s huge output.

Opera singers find new voice with musical theater

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When the average person thinks of American musical theater, the names Rodgers and Hammerstein no doubt come to mind. However, in the Musical Theater Revue, put on by Studio Artists of the Chautauqua Opera Company at 10:30 p.m. tonight and next Tuesday in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, Richard Rodgers will be nowhere to be found.

Singers explore diverse topics in weekly Artsongs

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Love, death and the meaning of existence are all themes that will be sung about in this week’s Chautauqua Opera Studio Artists Artsongs recital at 4 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ. Three singers, all Chautauqua first-timers, will be singing: soprano Alize Rozsnyai, baritone Nickoli Strommer and tenor Joshua Baum.

Opera program seeks new, returning audience this season

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Opera programs across the country have been facing struggles in light of the recent economic crisis, and many are seeing drastically lower attendance rates. With the recent closing of several notable companies, like the Baltimore Opera Company, and the gloomy forecast for others, like the New York City Opera, many opera administrators are seeking ways to bring the art form to a new audience, without ostracizing the loyal. Jay Lesenger, Chautauqua Opera Company’s artistic/general director, said this opera company is no exception.
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