Opera Popolare, or People’s Opera, is a local group founded to give opera to the people. This mission will be carried out in these ways:
1) Productions of Opera Popolare will be opportunities for local singers and instrumentalists to experience opera from the inside, as performers.
2) Productions of Opera Popolare will attempt to make opera accessible to a wider audience by such means as controlling the length and cost of entry.
3) Productions of Opera Popolare, will make every effort to help the audience understand the story and the action.
Interested in being involved or attending future events? Please contact us!
Opera Popolare Beginnings
In 2008 Celie Thomas, Opera Popolare owner, decided that the only way to be able to be in an opera was to produce one herself. She bought a score for Orfeo and Euridice because it had an aria that she knew she could sing (sung by Orfeo). She wanted the experience of musical interaction, so she found soprano, Charlotte Sather, who was willing to learn the part of Euridice. They chose a couple of duets from the opera to learn and started rehearsing and expanding scope. They performed the duets a couple of places, but Celie wanted the dramatic experience of opera. She talked to some theater people about how to go about staging an opera, and the theater people wisely suggested that since opera is first and foremost about music, she should look for a music director first. She asked her voice teacher, Rob Viens, if he would consider being music director for a small production of Orfeo and Euridice. Rob consented. As they worked, Celie suggested that it would really be nice to have the third character in the opera, Amore, so they could sing the trios. Rob suggested his student Lauren Delorme, and they continued practicing. As the pieces of Act 2 came together, Celie wanted to include some of the first act to make the story complete. The opera begins with a chorus singing behind Orfeo, and Celie started trying to figure out how to get together a chorus. Rob said he could probably put together a small chorus out of his studio, and he did, 3 voices to a part. The initial plan was to have the chorus stand and sing, Greek chorus fashion, but as rehearsals progressed, it became apparent the the production could be much better if the chorus moved around. Rob took on the role of stage director as well as music director. The production was shaping up, but Celie had an idea that it could be even better with an orchestra. Rob recruited a string quartet and 2 oboes and Celie worked on copying instrument parts out of the conductor’s score. She and Rob spent many late nights getting the instrument parts together.
In the meantime Celie worked on publicity. She felt that the production would have more validity if it was presented by an entity, so one night Celie and her husband started brainstorming names and checking them on the internet to see if they were already in use. The name Opera Popolare proved to be a winner. It’s Italian for People’s Opera, which was in line with Celie’s goal, to give “people” a chance to sing opera, and the name implied “accessible”, which, being an educator, Celie embraced.
Since that first production, in October 2009, many singers have participated in the company’s productions, some singing opera for the first time. And they come back for more.