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Afternoon at the Opera

Alexandra Loutsion and Adam Fry, Resident Artists at the Pittsburgh Opera

In past posts, I've given you my personal answer to the question: "Why Pittsburgh?"  Dogs and Hockey.  Of course, since that post, the list has been growing.  This year, the ToonSeum made a pretty strong showing, and now, you can add Opera to the roster.

That's right, Opera.

I've been juggling schedules with my friend Mel (otherwise known as our "Rookie of the Year"), to try and get to the FREE brown Bag Lunch series the Pittsburgh Opera has held throughout the 2010-2011 season.  We got it together just in time to catch the last one, this past Saturday, at the Opera's practice facility (I guess it's called the "Rehearsal Hall", but that's the hockey fan in me coming out) in the Strip District.  Free concert, lunch from Right By Nature, complimentary 21st Street Coffee, and an excuse to spend a Saturday afternoon in the Strip?  How can a girl refuse?

Growing up in a rather artistically inclined family, I've always had a strong appreciation for the Opera, in particular because my vocal range is (to put it mildly), lacking.  It's fascinating to me to hear someone who has that talent.  On Saturday, I was treated to five such talents, and I'll admit I left transformed into a little bit of an Opera groupie.  Robert Downey Jr. himself could have landed in the middle of the concert hall in full Iron Man Regalia, and I would have remained transfixed on the impressive performances of Resident Artists Alexandra Loutsion, Adam Fry, Shannon Kessler Dooley, Stephanie Lauricella, and James Flora.

The Director of Administration and Artistic Operations, William J. Powers, was our host for the event, and kept the mood light, entertaining, and diverse,  The selections for the concert ranged from the Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria" (OMG the voice on mezzo soprano Lauricella!  I welled up, and the BF left with a little bit of an Opera crush) to selections from the upcoming performance of "Dialogues of the Carmelites" by Poulenc.  Bass Adam Fry entertained us with selections from Poulenc's "Le Bestiaire", which are musical vignettes based on medieval texts of animal descriptions.  We were reminded that as an Opera singer, you aren't only required to have impressive vocal talents, but acting chops as well.  Although in French (eight years and I still could only make out a few phrases), Adam brought to life a Camel, a Tibetan Goat, and a Mouse, among others, and drew the biggest laughs from the crowd that afternoon.  Yep, that's right, Opera can be comedic.  Who knew?  As an interlude, talented pianist Mark Trawka treated us to Poulenc's "Nocturne in ut majeur", a bold, processional that made the perfect centerpiece for the event.

Opera.  It's what all of the cool kids are doing.  If you want to join us, here are some upcoming events:

Tune in to WQED on Saturday, April 23rd at 12:30pm, or Friday April 29th at 7pm.  Host Stephen Baum will preview the "Dialogues of the Carmelites" with commentary from the singers and conductors.

"Dialogues of the Carmelites" - Benedum Center, April  30th, May 3rd, 6th, 8th.
A"moving, powerful work" by Poulenc, based on "the story of 16 Carmelite Nuns who defended their faith and were executed during the political uproar of the Reign of Terror in France" (thank you to my program from Saturday's event for that description).  Tickets start at only $10!  412-456-6666 or www.pittsburghopera.org.

...and don't despair if you missed this year's Brown Bag Lunch series.  It will return in October!

To review.  My answers so far to "Why Pittsburgh?":
1. Dogs
2. Hockey
3. The ToonSeum
4. The Pittsburgh Opera


Mel said...

And... and...


Erin Marton said...

I think you need to bring your tin foil lightning bolts to the next Opera performance ;)