Echo Sibley to star in Opera in the Ozarks presentation of 'Suor Angelica'

Monday, June 26, 2006

Inspiration point -- When the curtain goes up at Opera in the Ozarks, Echo Sibley, a 1996 Eureka Springs High School graduate, will be in the spotlight. Sibley, daughter of Sandra Synar of Eureka Springs, stars in "Suor Angelica," a riveting and heart-rending tale premiering at the Inspiration Point Fine Arts Center west of Eureka Springs on Tuesday, June 27.

The journey to this plum role of a mother's love, sacrifice and redemption in one of Puccini's most powerful operas has been a long one for Sibley. Her father, Don Sibley, was a photographer for the Tulsa Opera and her grandmother, Betsy Walloch, sang with the same company and brought Sibley to see her first opera, another classic by Puccini, when she was two years old.

"Even though I was very young, I remember that we saw 'Madame Butterfly,'" she said. "I wanted to be Butterfly."

The spotlight beckoned to her throughout childhood; Sibley grew up in Eureka Springs and performed locally with the Lane House after-school performing arts program, and was also cast in "The Company Party," a regional television show in the mold of Disney's Mickey Mouse Club. After graduating from Eureka Springs High School in 1996, Sibley continued her education with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance degree, Magna Cum Laude, and her Masters in Music degree, both from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She now holds an adjunct professorship at the UofA, in addition to her visual arts work with her mother, Sandra Synar; their art can be seen at Satori Arts, a gallery located in downtown Eureka Springs.

Recently in Fayetteville, she performed roles such as The Governess in Britten's "Turn of the Screw," Elle in Poulenc's one woman opera, "La Voix Humaine," and Almirena in Handel's "Rinaldo." Additionally she has performed the role of Suor Angelica at the Episcopal Cathedral in Fayetteville with the University of Arkansas and the university's children's choir, but the Opera in the Ozarks production has special meaning for her.

"I always enjoyed seeing shows there when I was young, so coming back to perform this role at Opera in the Ozarks means so much. It's an opportunity to give back to the community that nurtured me, and I get the chance to work with talented people from across the country," she said.

Local opera fans wanting to catch Sibley's premiere will get an opportunity of their own; tickets for the June 27 show will be half-price for residents of Carroll, Benton, Madison and Washington counties. Suor Angelica shares the playbill with another Puccini gem, "Gianni Schicchi." The 56th season of Opera in the Ozarks kicks off tonight, June 23, with "La Traviata," and the premiere of "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" takes place on Saturday, June 24.

The local discount applies to each premiere, through June 27. The three programs of opera will rotate through the season, from June 23 to July 21, with special nights featuring additional programs, including Family Night with "Who's Afraid of Opera" on June 25, and a traveling production of "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville on July 8. For tickets and more information, call (479) 253-8595 or visit www.opera.org.

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