Not even a global pandemic can shut down the power of music. In the face of COVID-19, Seattle Opera and other arts groups are finding creative new ways to perform. Seattle Opera is launching a new recital series, “Songs of Summer,” which will bring beloved singers to a new stage – your phone, tablet, or computer screen.
“Opera companies need to be flexible, adaptive and of course very creative if we’re going to get through this uncertain time,” said General Director Christina Scheppelmann. “At some point we will return to McCaw Hall. In the meantime, opera can still bring us joy, comfort, and touching moments of humanity – even though we cannot be together to enjoy these moments.”
Beginning on Thursday, May 28 at 7pm, and continuing weekly thereafter, recitals will be available to stream on Seattle Opera’s website, Facebook, and YouTube on Thursdays at 7pm at: youtube.com/SeattleOpera; facebook.com/SeattleOpera; www.seattleopera.org
The concert series kicks off on May 28 with international star Angel Blue, who performs a mix of opera and spirituals in a 30-minute program with pianist Jay Rozendaal. Many will recognize Blue from the viral HiHo Kids video, “Kids Meet an Opera Singer.” Prior to the cancellation of Seattle Opera’s May La bohème, the American soprano had been scheduled to sing Mimì.
“I love Seattle Opera and consider this to be one of my home theaters,” said Blue, most recently Bess in Porgy and Bess. “I was very sad to hear that La bohème was canceled, but the opportunity to share a recital with the Seattle Opera audience was an idea that quickly lifted my spirits. This recital gives me the chance to be creative and engage with one of my favorite opera companies in the world. I hope that everyone enjoys it.”
On June 4, enjoy a recital from Tess Altiveros (lead soldier in The Falling and the Rising), who will be accompanied on piano by Elisabeth Ellis.
On June 11, “opera’s nose-studded rock star” (The New York Times) Jamie Barton lends her voice to “Songs of Summer.” Accompanied by Jonathan Easter on piano, the acclaimed mezzo-soprano will offer musical theater hits such as “I Can Cook, Too” from On the Town by Leonard Bernstein, “What’ll I do?” by Irving Berlin, and “Hear My Song” from Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown. In addition to her triumphs as a singer, Barton is recognized for bringing conversations about body positivity, social justice, and LGBTQ+ rights into the spotlight. She made her company debut as Fenena in Nabucco.
On June 18, watch Margaret Gawrysiak (Madame Larina in Eugene Onegin) with pianist Jeremy Reger. On June 25, John Moore (title character in Eugene Onegin and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs) sings accompanied by Tim Barrick on piano.
The “Songs of Summer” recitals will continue with Will Liverman (who recently made history as the first Black Papageno, The Magic Flute, at The Metropolitan Opera), Ben Bliss (Peter Quint, The Turn of the Screw), Shelly Traverse (Chan Parker, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird), Nerys Jones (Inez, Il trovatore), and Damien Geter (Colonel, The Falling and the Rising). Two singers who had been scheduled to make company debuts in La bohème, Vanessa Vasquez (Mimì) and Theo Hoffman (Schaunard) will also perform. Additional pianists will include Beth Grimmett-Tankersley and Jessica Hall.
Recital dates for Will Liverman, Ben Bliss, Shelly Traverse, Nerys Jones, Damien Geter, Vanessa Vasquez, Theo Hoffman and others will be announced in the coming weeks. Robert McPherson will also treat Seattle Opera audiences to a special edition of his hilarious program The Drunken Tenor. For more information, visit www.seattleopera.org/summersongs.
The “Songs of Summer” launch on May 28 follows a separate announcement for the company: Seattle Opera received a $2.3 million federal loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, which will sustain operations through mid-June. Members of the public can help ensure the company’s future through the rest of the pandemic crisis – and support programming like “Songs of Summer” – at seattleopera.org/give.
About Seattle Opera
Established in 1963, Seattle Opera is committed to serving the people of the Pacific Northwest with performances of the highest caliber and through innovative educational and engagement programs for all. Each year, more than 95,000 people attend Seattle Opera performances, and more than 400,000 people of all ages are served through school performances, radio broadcasts, and more. By drawing our communities together, and by offering opera’s unique fusion of music and drama, we create life-enhancing experiences that speak deeply to people’s hearts and minds. Connect with Seattle Opera on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, and on 98.1 Classical KING FM.
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Courtesy of Seattle Opera