Let loose the applause, for tonight I performed in my first opera.
During an interactive production of La Clemenza di Tito re-written for a modern audience, I was persuaded to play a member of the press and present a question to President Tito during her press conference:
A thread throughout my blog has been to witness how artists keep opera vital and relevant in the present and how they will bring in the next generation of opera-fanatics. Renegade Opera has taken on this mantle bringing me and a few friends to a small mansion in North East Portland for just such an experience.
The formal medium of opera is my passion. Here it feels at its purest to see like minded people in a small city on a modest budget pushing the form forward, taking chances, presenting beautiful voices, and inviting audiences to their door.
Upon arrival the dissolution of the fourth wall began immediately when I was handed my press pass and escorted to the White House’s press room as tour guide Beatrize Abella began to address us with some parenthesized whispers about what was really going down with the President and her supporters.
I was nervous about reading the question I was given, maybe wearing the mask reminded me of teaching with masks for the last two years, but I delivered my line well and my application for an Actors Guild card will be forthcoming.
During the opera we witnessed official speeches and several back door scenarios until everyone in the audience was asked to vote for the headline they thought most represented the truth behind the speeches. Is President Tito a sincere advocate for the people or just another corrupted politician? I was on team Tito, prejudiced from seeing the original opera La Clemeza di Tito at The Met. In that one Tito grants clemency to her would be assassins.
The results of our votes were shown on a screen behind Tito as she scrolled through her cell phone and there were several poignant moments in the opera, like when Sarah Wilkes and Brooke Larson used the knife to see her reflection. It was small moments like this that showed how thoughtful this renegade production was.
Renegade Opera has a laudable mission statement and it was a real treat and privilege to support them for a wonderful evening of heart felt quality opera, the chemistry between Anna Lieberman and Sylvia Wilkes was palpable and the polyphony of voice that closed the show was extraordinary, brava.
Visit https://www.renegadeopera.org/ to learn more about Madeline Ross and the team behind Tito, and look out for their next production together.
Notes on the Production:
Flavia Tito / Madeline Ross
Victoria Booth / Lindsey Johnson
Sara Wilkes / Sadie Gregg
Petra Thompson / Allison Knotts
Sylvia Wilkes / Madison Hall
Anna Liebermann / Elliot Menard
Tour Guide / Beatriz Abella
Orchestra / Jess Preis, piano
The Cerimon House (Portland, Oregon)