Golf carts and opera singers are an unusual combination, but that did not deter the Chautauqua Opera Company from combining them to create Opera on Wheels, the second Opera Invasion of the season. The Young Artists and their golf carts will take off at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 5, from Norton Hall.
For this Invasion, opera singers will ride on golf carts while performing everything from arias to musical theater songs.
2022 Young Artist Bernardo Medeiros said he has — unknowingly — been preparing for this invasion his whole life, as he has practiced singing many times while riding in the car. But, admittedly, he has never practiced in a golf cart.
“The original message that we got (about the Invasion) was there’s going to be an opera staff member on the cart with us, and for some reason, in my head, I pictured somebody … with a keyboard on one bench and then somebody singing on the other,” Medeiros said. “But that is not what we’re doing. That is very unsafe.”
To continue with the Invasion’s untraditional theme, the repertoire the Young Artists will perform will not be strictly arias or ensemble opera music.
“We can choose whatever we want, if we want to do arias or musical theater or songs,” said soprano Nicole Heinen.
The event offers the Young Artists more freedom because it is more informal than most performances.
“It’s all left up to us, because we’re not really rehearsing it,” said mezzo-soprano Olivia Johnson.
The Young Artists — Heinen, Johnson, Medeiros, Marcus Jefferson and Max Potter — are looking forward to the casual nature of the Invasion. Not only is there minimal rehearsal, but the singers will be casually dressed, too.
“I think there’s something about just a general audience being maybe a little intimidated by an opera singer,” Medeiros said. “This is cool, to just break down those barriers. … We can sing whatever, we’re in the community with you, I’m not dressed in a tux and you’re not dressed in a tux. We’re all just hanging out.”
As they travel throughout the grounds via golf cart, they will spend a few minutes together before splitting up. This pattern will continue until they end the Invasion in Bestor Plaza.
“I think it’s clever that we’re going to people, rather than setting an event and then only certain people will come because they like what we do automatically,” Johnson said. “But by exposing people to it by accident, by chance, I think it might create a greater diversity or acceptance from people that wouldn’t come.”