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Chautauqua Opera Company to Sing Across Grounds in ‘Grand Finale’

Soprano Cristina María Castro performs during Opera Invasion PLUS Monday, July 14, 2019 at Odland Plaza. VISHAKHA GUPTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As the 90th season of Chautauqua Opera Company and Norton Hall comes to a close, there is one more celebration in store.

Chautauqua Opera Young Artists will traverse the grounds, starting at different areas at 7:15 p.m. tonight, August 1, ending on Bestor Plaza in this season’s last Opera Invasion, “Grand Finale.” The 16 Young Artists will meet up along the way to Bestor Plaza, singing a variety of songs. Solos will become duets and duets will become quartets, as the Young Artists encounter each other on their routes to Bestor.

“They have starting places all over the Institution grounds, and they have maps to follow their routes to Bestor Plaza,” said Steven Osgood, general and artistic director of Chautauqua Opera. “And they have to sing the whole time.”

This is the fourth time Chautauqua Opera has performed this Opera Invasion. The first time, Osgood didn’t think that people would follow the Young Artists, but now he expects Chautauquans to follow Young Artists on their 15-minute walk to the plaza.

“I didn’t know what to expect the first time,” Osgood said. “As the first group came around the library, they had like 75 people following them and the second group came in with about 50 people following.”

The “Grand Finale” pays tribute to this past season and encourages audience participation, pulling audience members into an opera singer’s shoes.

When the Young Artists get to Bestor, they will conduct a sing-a-long with the audience. This year, they will perform traditional Chautauqua songs like “The Bell Tower.”

Osgood said the Opera Invasion series was conceived with the intention of engaging Chautauquans with the art form. He said they are intended to have a big impact and spark the interest of those listening.

“With every Opera Invasion, they should take as little rehearsal as possible,” Osgood said, “and then have a maximum impact on our audience, which means they have to be highly structured.”

The Chautauqua Opera season began with the Opera Invasion honoring the 90 years of music Chautauqua Opera has performed in the famed Norton Hall, and the Young Artists lined the streets from Bestor to Norton, singing verses from the 90 years of repertoire.

“It’s the fact that we are given an opportunity to share (opera) with people as generously as possible,” Osgood said. “And it’s just fun.”

For a map of the Invasion’s route, visit https://chq.org/opera-invasion-finale 

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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.

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