NICHOLE JIANG & DAVID KWIATKOWSKI – STAFF WRITERS
After a week of traditions celebrating 147 years of Chautauqua, it’s now time to celebrate the Chautauqua Opera Company in its final performance of the season. The 2021 Young Artists will be the stars of the show alongside the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Chautauqua’s Principal Pops Conductor Stuart Chafetz for Opera & Pops at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7 in the Amphitheater.
This year’s performance is unique — the program features both traditional opera pieces and contemporary pop works from musical theater.
“This time we’re featuring some arias from Puccini, some Tchaikovsky, Rossini and Mozart — which is unusual, because there used to be an opera highlights concert, which would feature just traditional opera, and then they would do an Opera Pops concert later on in the summer,” Chafetz said. “This year, with the situation, we’re kind of combining the two and seeing how that format works.”
The concert’s title, “We are different, we are one,” is taken from the duet between Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia in Scalia/Ginsburg, the star show of Chautauqua’s Opera’s program this summer. Carol Rausch, the music administrator and choral master for Chautauqua Opera, always tries to match the concert’s theme with the theme of the week’s programming.
“Whether it’s challenging or not, I really love … chiming in with the larger picture of what’s going on at the Institution so that the Opera Company is part of it,” Rausch said.
Saturday’s performance is an opportunity not just for the community to experience the talent of Chautauqua Opera, but for the Young Artists participating to open new doors.
“I’m always blown away by the talent and by the team over at the (Jane A. Gross) Opera Center, because they’re magnificent and really wonderful collaborators,” Chafetz said. “It’s always tons of fun, and I really enjoy it because very often, I will hear someone from the program and actually use them for some of my own programs around the country.”
The chance for the Young Artists to perform with the CSO is something that doesn’t come around often.
“I’ve had a lot of singers that I work with in the pop world that say it’s so amazing to have that sound of the full orchestra, rather than just piano accompaniment or just several people in the pit,” Chafetz said. “And honestly, the opera program is sensational. Everybody over there is so talented. I mean they all have a skill set that they bring to the table. There’s a great spirit over there, so it’s really cool to bring it all together with the symphonic, pop and opera sounds.”
Michael Colman, one of the Young Artists in Chautauqua Opera, is ecstatic to be performing in front of a live orchestra in the Amp.
“When you get to sing on stage with a full orchestra, there is not another feeling like that,” Colman said. “Especially in the Amphitheater, where you’re just standing in front of hundreds of people performing. If you love opera, you’ll be happy. If you love musical theater, you’ll be happy. It’s going to be great.”
Courtesy of Diction Coach Allison Voth, there will be supertitles for all foreign language selections on the program.
Rausch believes that in a time as polarizing as the one that Chautauqua finds itself in, this Opera & Pops concert will be the perfect way to connect Chautauquans.
“Music soothes the savage beast,” Rausch said. “There is a power in music, I think, to communicate in a way that no other art form can. I think it can draw people together. People (may) have warring ideologies, but might have the (same) piece of music that they love.”