Opera Idaho is currently looking for sponsors for our 2016-2017 Season. Sponsorship is a perfect opportunity for companies that want to benefit the arts in Idaho while also receiving fantastic exposure to thousands of opera lovers. If you own a business or work for one that you think could benefit from exposure to an influential and loyal audience there are many different levels to choose from with assorted advertising and entertainment opportunities associated. Becoming a sponsor is also a fantastic opportunity for individuals that may want to honor a loved one, support a specific Guest Artist, or want to tie their contribution to their favorite production of the season.
Click here to view our Sponsorship Opportunities Packet or call our Director of Development & Marketing, Stephanie Derentz, at 208-345-3531 ext. 4 for more information.
Vía Láctea: a brand new opera from Bend, OR
By Fernando Menéndez
During a staff meeting, our General Director Mark Junkert let the staff know that he had been invited to go to Opera Bend to see a world premiere of a new American opera. Mark had another trip scheduled for the same weekend and could not accept the invitation. He asked if anyone in the staff was interested in going in his place. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity.
Opera Idaho was one of seven opera companies attending the world premiere on June 10-12, 2016. After a year of hard work in writing and composing this new work, the creative team wants this opera to have a long life after its premiere in Oregon. And, many opera companies were invited to the premiere.
It all started when award-winning author Ellen Waterston walked the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James), in search of answers to many of life’s questions. The Camino is any of the routes – the pilgrim way – that lead to the shrine of the apostle St. James at the Cathedral of Santiago in Galicia, Spain. When she returned home, inspired by her experiences, Ellen wrote the verse book “Vía Láctea: A Woman of a Certain Age Walks the Camino.”
After reading the book, many fans would ask Ellen if she’d considered turning the story into an opera. Intrigued by the idea, she reached out to Central Oregon Symphony Director Michael Gesme, who in turn reached out to composer Rebecca Oswald, and before long, she had a whole team ready to turn her book into an opera.
The opera is an insightful and sometimes comical view into a woman who feels lost and is struggling to find her way. She is fed up of a life dictated by routines designed to keep her from feeling alone. She decides to walk the Camino in hopes to find the answers that will bring her life back into focus.
Emily Pulley, a New York-based soprano, starred as Peregrina, the lead character. Not only is she an incredible performer who spent more than 10 seasons with the Metropolitan Opera, but she also walked the Camino. Having such a close connection with the story gave her performance a level of realism that takes most singers years of performing the same type of role to achieve.
At first the Camino seems like an exercise in futility: walking for days, blistered feet, horrible hostels, terrible company. It all seemed like pointless, empty rituals. Even the churches seemed to have lost their way … everything felt like a circus. It was all show and no substance.
Peregrina is very frustrated by all she sees, but throughout the trip she is guided by an omniscient third-person letting her know to be patient and that things will work out in the end. But things only start to change when halfway through, Peregrina discovers “Camino Woman”.
Camino Woman is the Camino coming to life: her head in Santiago, one arm outstretched along the northern cost of Spain, another arm outstretched along the western coast of Spain and Portugal. Two roads that go through the center of Spain split one heading south and one heading east becoming each the Camino Woman’s legs. This character became the embodiment of all holy women.
Camino Woman shows Peregrina that she’s not finding the answers she wants, because she’d been asking the wrong questions, or rather that her questions were irrelevant. Camino Woman showed Peregrina how the power to change was always within her. This inner power gave her the strength to finish her walk, break through what have become empty rituals and to find herself once again.
Over all, I enjoyed this opera. It was a very brave undertaking by first-time librettist Ellen Waterson and first-time opera composer Rebecca Oswald. The music is for the most part beautifully written. Some of the arias are exquisite and will probably withstand the test of time.
Also in attendance was Lorin Wilkerson, opera reviewer for Northwest Reberb. I found his review of the opera and found that he managed to put into words many of the same things I felt after seeing this opera. His review of the opera praises Oswasld for having “some real skill as a composer” and the singers for their masterful performances, while at the same time saying “the libretto and story were definitely a mixed bag.” The opera was about this woman’s journey, but “it felt as though Peregrina’s story got lost, degenerating into so much quasi-metaphysical argle-bargle–stock ideas like ‘life always gives you what you need,’ and ‘you are what you hoped to be all along,’ and other similar nonsense. Philosophical considerations aside, the second half was confusing and over-long–all the points had been made a half-hour before the music ended, and it felt like the second half was largely about making these spiritual points and less about a woman’s journey, which is what fascinated me at the beginning.”
It is incredible that such an exciting endeavor was accomplished by Opera Bend. It takes an immense amount of work from very talented people to premiere an opera. What the future holds for Peregrina’s journey is uncertain at the moment, but at least she has taken her first steps.
A new season is upon us, a season filled with laughter, despair, love and … the death of two tenors, one soprano, one baritone and one bird.
The 2016-2017 season will open at The Egyptian Theatre with Johann Strauss, Jr’s fabulous music in Die Fledermaus (The Bat): a tale with disguises, mistaken identities, lots of flirting and laughter. Then we return to The Morrison Center with Giacomo Puccini’s depictions of torture, murder and suicide in Tosca. We close the season back at The Egyptian Theatre with Jules Massenet’s story of a passionate and sensitive young artist’s love, life and death in Werther.
(The Bat) sung in English
November 4 & 6, 2016
The Egyptian Theatre
sung in Italian
February 24 & 26, 2017
The Morrison Center
sung in French
May 5 & 7, 2017
The Egyptian Theatre
Season tickets are now on sale. Click here for more information.