Opera in the Ozarks prepares for 63rd season

Friday, May 3, 2013
A scene from an opera performed last summer at Opera in the Ozarks

EUREKA SPRINGS -- Three popular operas, including two comedies and a tragedy, plus a group of extraordinary singers and artistic staff will bring magic on the mountain at Inspiration Point, as Opera in the Ozarks presents its 63rd season beginning on Friday, June 21 and running through July 19.

This year's repertoire features these audience favorites: Madama Butterfly by Puccini, The Elixir of Love by Donizetti, and Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance. The four-week season includes 26 performances highlighting the exceptional voices of some of tomorrow's operatic stars supported by a gifted orchestra.

The outdoor venue of Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point, located on Highway 62 West, 5 miles west of Eureka Springs, lends itself to an intimate look at each of these acclaimed operas -- an opportunity seldom experienced.

Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. for all shows at Inspiration Point. Tickets ($20 and $25) may be purchased online at www.opera.org, or by phone at 479-253-8595.

As in the past, Opera in the Ozarks will also present each opera at Sunday performances at Arend Arts Center in Bentonville, at 4 p.m. on June 30, July 7 and July 14.

Opera in the Ozarks, a non-profit organization, for 63 years has been the training ground for serious young artists. The singers are selected annually from national auditions. This year, more than 250 singers from 33 states tried out for the coveted roles. Over the years, Opera in the Ozarks has launched the careers of many talented singers who have gone on to perform in premier opera houses around the world.

Opera in the Ozarks Artistic Director Thomas Cockrell says, "The 63rd Season of Opera in the Ozarks promises to be one of the most splendid yet with over 40 talented and already-accomplished vocalists featured in three of the most celebrated operas, two comedies and one tragedy -- but all three extremely popular with audiences.

"Jennifer Zetlan, a 2004 Opera in the Ozarks alum, who played Euridice in Orpheus in the Underworld, recently sang Musetta at Seattle. I think her quote [below] sums up the OiO experience well," Cockrell added.

"Opera in the Ozarks in 2004 was the first real summer program I did," explained Zetlan. "I forged some wonderful and important friendships with people who are now working in many facets of the arts; singing, teaching, arts management, etc. I was also still so new to the world of opera; it was a great opportunity to learn some classic operas and also some new music [Raautavara's House of the Sun], which had a great impact on me."

Alumni Mark Delevanis, one of the premier Baritones in opera today, is currently singing at The Met. He said this about his experience at Opera in the Ozarks: "The total immersion into the operatic process at Opera in the Ozarks made it possible for me to do what I do today! The "Point" really showed me what it is like to work in our profession."

"The invaluable education and musical experience I received from Opera in the Ozarks continues to help me even today as I sing at the world's great opera houses," says alumnus Chris Merritt, who has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Santa Fe Opera.

William Johns, another accomplished alumnus, says: "Without Inspiration Point, my life would have taken an entirely different course. A challenging, wonderful opportunity for young performers, Opera in the Ozarks instills certain values and an outlook essential to the professional singer." Johns has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Musica Bayreuth, La Scala and Covent Garden.

Opera in the Ozarks staff members come from professional opera companies and outstanding college music faculties, and include independent specialists in areas such as stage combat, wigs and make-up, and master classes. The music staff numbers 22 with an orchestra of 26 representing professional symphony players combined with advanced college players.

In addition to the staff, the Opera Guild provides invaluable services. Numbering 125 strong, Guild members are mainly from the surrounding area and assist in providing transportation, office help, fundraising, special events, scholarship funds, ushering at performances, help in beautifying the grounds, as well as building stage sets.

"I am very excited about the 63rd season and the incredible talent and exciting performances it will bring to Northwest Arkansas," says longtime General Director Jim Swiggart. So many people are amazed at the level of our performances and have become patrons who travel each summer to experience opera in an intimate, exciting venue. There is magic on the mountain at Inspiration Point!"

For more information about Opera in the Ozarks or to purchase tickets, visit www.opera.org. If you are interested in having an outreach group perform for your school or club, please email generaldirector@opera.org or artisticdirector@opera.org.

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