Thursday, June 3, 2010

Opera Underground

Opera Underground

While I make it a habit to seek out our city’s arts activities, I sometimes find those you stumble upon are the best experiences.

Hopefully that was the case for Coffee House on Cherry Street goers on a Saturday night earlier this year.

Tulsa Opera quietly launched a new program, Opera Underground, on Feb. 6 at Coffee House on Cherry Street (or, as we locals like to call it, CHOCS). When I say “quietly,” I mean the company didn’t tell a lot of people about it. The event itself was anything but, with TO’s Studio Artists belting tunes from Rigoletto and Don Quichotte, as well as Broadway and cabaret fare.

Opera Underground

Though I make it a point to regularly frequent CHOCS — not only does the place serve delectable Topeca coffee, but its sandwiches and pastries are to die for — this time, I was on a mission. I grabbed a large mocha and settled in close to where Brian Landry was performing one of opera’s most famous arias — “La donna e mobile,” from Rigoletto’s third act.

I could have been listening to a recording, Landry’s voice was so clear and booming. And it’s likely many of the CHOCS patrons who stumbled in looking for nothing more than a dirty chai latte and some free wi-fi thought so, too. However, as the hour-long program continued, more people gathered, clearly enthralled by what they were seeing and hearing.

Opera Underground

Later, I spoke with Kostis Protopapas, TO’s artistic director and the inventor of this program, who pointed out that much of the classical repertoire was written for public performance, meaning it was meant to be heard in salons and homes, not just in grandiose theaters.

The idea behind Opera Underground is that it’s just that — underground. It’s meant to be stumbled upon, to catch people off guard and expose them to operatic music in a way they’ve never heard it before.

It’s also a wonderful opportunity to spend some up-close and personal time with the music. While I love to hear the opera in the Chapman Hall at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, in that setting, you don’t get the opportunity to nestle in close to it, to hear it ringing in your ears and feel it breathing next to you.

Opera Underground

Honestly, I think Opera Underground is one of the coolest events I’ve attended in a long time.
If you missed it, don’t be sad. Tulsa Opera will be at LXi, at 61st and Yale in KingsPointe Shopping Center, Saturday night at 6pm.

This weekend, patrons will be treated to a season preview by Light Opera Oklahoma, as well as a presentation of popular opera arias as introduced by Mark Armstrong, Tulsa Opera principal pianist and vocal coach. Look also for a giveaway that includes two orchestra-level tickets to La Traviata, the 2010/2011 season opening production for Tulsa Opera, and a $50 gift certificate to LXi.

The event is free, but the chow and drinks are on you. Hope to see you there.

This post is thanks to Holly Wall, senior editor at Tulsa Business Journal and Urban Tulsa Weekly arts writer. Her work also appears in Art Focus OklahomaIntermission and Mia Magazine.

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