Before the 2018 Chautauqua season began, four of Chautauqua Opera Company’s Young Artists performed an opera in county schools. Four weeks into the season, those artists will perform that same opera at Chautauqua one last time.
“It’s a nice end cap for us on this project. We worked on it here. We put it together very quickly, and then we went out and lived in it,” said Young Artist Patrick Dean Shelton. “Now, we get to bring it back to Chautauqua and share it with the people who let us go out and share with other people. It’s going to be our ‘thank you’ to them.”
Chautauqua Opera will present The Bremen Town Musicians at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, in Smith Wilkes Hall as part of the Family Entertainment Series.
John Davies’ fable follows four animals who unite to help the town of Bremen. The cast and crew include Kimberly Hann as Barcarolle the dog, Shelton as Eddie Pensier the rooster, Brandon Bell as General Boom the donkey, and Kayla White as Dorabella the cat. Kaley Karis Smith serves as stage director, and Rick Hoffenberg will accompany the Young Artists on piano.
The Bremen Town Musicians has a “grab-bag of good morals,” Smith said. The opera stresses the importance of being a good friend and thinking for yourself. It also conveys the theme that anyone can enjoy and make music.
The opera takes well-known compositions, like Verdi’s “La donna e mobile” from Rigoletto, and changes the words. Because The Bremen Town Musician uses familiar pieces, the opera is easily accessible, Hann said.
“We really enjoy what we’re doing, so I think no matter your background or your age, you’ll be able to see we’re enjoying what we’re doing in kind of a different way than you would have seen in Don Giovanni in the Amp,” Hann said.
The hope with this performance is to present opera to people who might have been hesitant to go to the mainstage performances, especially those with children.
“You need a way to be exposed to this and a way that gives people, without an experience in opera, a friendly introduction in a manageable dose,” Hoffenberg said. “I think it’s doing such a great service to the community by allowing us to present to young people an entry into opera.”
Shelton said he’s glad to have the “band back together again” for the two performances. Shelton loved his experience teaching in the schools and said it will be nice to share what the Young Artists did with Chautauquans.
“Doing the shows in the schools re-energized my entire approach to what I’m doing,” Shelton said. “I’m happy to do it one more time.”