Each year, the Chautauqua Opera Company Young Artists perfect their craft with the support of the community, particularly from the Chautauqua Opera Guild.
The Guild held its annual Adopt-An-Artist picnic last Sunday in the Jane A. Gross Opera Center.
The Guild members mingled with Chautauqua Opera Company Young Artists over a meal and a glass of wine. Before they cut the cake, members sang a song, written by Guild member Nancy Seel, to honor the busy 2019 opera season and the 90th anniversary of Chautauqua Opera.
The Guild organizes events, fundraises and supports the Chautauqua Opera Company throughout the whole year. At the beginning of the summer, the Young Artists are paired with a couple that opens their home to them for the season. The couple that “adopts” a Young Artist can do everything from providing a home-cooked meal to supporting them at their shows.
Guild President Mary Mitchell works hard to support the opera singers and adores all of their opera events.
“The Adopt-An-Artist program is so great because you help them get to know the grounds,” Mitchell said. “We just provide a space for them to have rest because it does get very busy for them.”
Jane Gross, after whom the Jane A. Gross Opera Center is named, keeps adopting Young Artists every year because she loves helping them in their journeys and respects their hard work throughout the season.
“I love the energy of Young Artists,” Gross said. “Everybody is doing their best, to achieve, to get better, to create something special.”
This year, Mitchell has “adopted” baritone Yazid Gray, who will portray Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Gross was paired with mezzo-soprano Antona Yost, who will portray Cherubino in The Ghosts of Versailles.
Gray said he has never been a part of an opera company that supports each individual singer to this degree.
“I’ve never seen a situation where you are paired up with opera parents,” Gray said. “Here it’s like they really want to get to know you as a person and build a bond with you that will then last longer than just the summer.”
For Yost, it’s important to have a support system during the busy season.
“The gesture of thoughtfulness means so much when you’re coming to a place that you’ve never been to before,” she said.