New opera company takes the stage in Traverse City
This weekend, a brand new opera company will make its debut in Traverse City.
Traverse City Opera is taking the stage for the first time Friday night with a concert called "Found in Translation: A Dramatic Opera Experience."
Lindsey Anderson is the executive director and co-founder of Traverse City Opera.
She said that it was important to her to create an opera company in Traverse City because opera means so much to her personally.
"I wanted to give the gift of this beautiful art form to this community," Anderson explained. "Professional opera has never been in the spotlight in Traverse City, and I thought it was time."
Although full-length staged opera productions are part of Anderson's long-term goals for Traverse City Opera, this weekend's concert will focus on popular selections from operas and art songs.
"It's a smorgasbord of opera hits," Anderson said.
Audiences are likely to recognize many of the pieces on the program from film, television and commercials.
One of those pieces is the aria "O mio babbino caro," which soprano Laura Osgood Brown performed in IPR's Studio A with collaborative pianist Susan Snyder.
That aria is likely to sound familiar even if you're not an opera expert. Most recently, it's been featured in commercials for Velveeta.
And for those who are hesitant about opera because it's in languages like Italian, French and German, Anderson and Traverse City Opera are offering a unique approach.
On Friday's concert, each musical piece will be preceded by actors performing modernized English-language translations of the text and setting the scene.
Sara Hartley adapted the English translations for Friday's performance and will be one of several actors in the production.
Anderson said that this particular approach was inspired by the iconic scene in the film "Philadelphia" in which Tom Hanks's character describes an operatic scene to Denzel Washington's character.
To her, that scene captures "the sentiment, the passion and the power that opera has to move you."
"We want to share how relevant and relatable the stories of opera can be," Anderson said. "I want our audience to realize that opera is about the human experience."
In addition to selections from operas, this weekend's program will include art songs.
Anderson, herself a classically trained operatic mezzo soprano, performed Franz Schubert's song "An die Musik" in Studio A with collaborative pianist Susan Snyder. Sara Hartley joined her with the English translation of the text.
"This piece of music reminds me that it's not indulgent to perform in a time of suffering," Anderson said. "It's also not indulgent to receive art in a time of suffering - because we need it."
Anderson said she hopes that the people who attend Friday's concert will allow the music to fuel them, and "then they can use that fuel to go out into the world to do good and make a difference."
"Found in Translation: A Dramatic Opera Experience" is taking place Friday, Apr. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Kirkbride Hall, Traverse City.
Tickets are currently sold out, but the waitlist for tickets is available here.
Stefan Wiebe engineered the recordings made in IPR's Studio A.