In a little more than one week, Opera Omaha kicks off its 54th Season with the glorious This is Opera! As we prepare for this season opening event, people are asking me, “But, isn’t this just a concert?” My answer is always, “Yes, but it’s so much more than that”.
We are proud to welcome James de Blasis back to Opera Omaha to direct a cast of all stars that are known and beloved by Omaha audiences. Mr. de Blasis has a long history not only with Opera Omaha, but with American opera in general. He served as General Director and Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera for many years. He directed across the country, bringing opera to life in places from El Paso to New York City. He has a special place in Opera Omaha history as an integral part of Opera Omaha’s evolution from the all-volunteer Omaha Civic Opera Society into the fully fledged professional opera company that it is today. Omaha audiences still speak of his Lucia di Lammermoor, starring famed soprano Beverly Sills, that opened the newly renovated Orpheum Theater in 1975. I am lucky to have been in many planning meetings with de Blasis and the production team as they sketch out This is Opera! and I can assure you that this will be no “park and bark” concert. De Blasis is bringing all of his skills together to entertain and impress an audience.
The fantastic cast will bring de Blasis’ vision to life. Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs, Arnold Rawls, Todd Thomas, and Stacey Rishoi join 48 members of the Opera Omaha Chorus and the Omaha Symphony to perform some of the best music in operatic history. You won’t want to miss Arnold Rawls performing “Nessun Dorma” from Puuccini’s Turandot. The Kansas City Star said this of Rawls’s recent triumphant performance at the Kansas City Lyric Opera, “…Any Calaf, I suppose, will be judged by the quality of his third-act aria, “Nessun dorma,” the most familiar melody in the score and tenor Arnold Rawls gives it a bravura reading. The intensity of his performance earned a spontaneous burst of applause.” Blancke-Biggs wowed Omaha audiences performing the title roles of Tosca and Aida. Thomas appeared just last spring in Madama Butterfly and Rishoi returns for the second time in company history after appearing in Little Women. These are some powerful voices and you won’t be disappointed in how they sound together on the gorgeous Orpheum Theater Stage. I often say that seeing the fantastic architecture of the Orpheum Theater is worth the price of admission. This historic theater is such an important part of this city and Omaha is proud to host such a great place for opera.
I invite you to participate in the silent auction taking place before This is Opera! in the lobby of the Orpheum Theater. A special toast with complimentary champagne launches the bidding at 6:00 pm. Several opera stars and important artists from Opera Omaha’s 54 year history donated items for your bidding pleasure. A plate signed by famed soprano Beverly Sills, a copy of soprano Renee Fleming’s autobiography signed by the artist, a Jun Kaneko print of the Madama Butterfly wedding, and a pastel painting by famed conductor, Joseph Rescigno are just a few of the unique objects featured. Many other items will be available including dinner parties, wine, and Chicago Opera Theater tickets. All proceeds from the auction go to the Opera Omaha Guild which helps fund the educational efforts of Opera Omaha.
Don’t miss this opportunity to hear great performances of magnificent music in a beautiful venue. Join us for This is Opera! We look forward to seeing you on October 15!
Opera Omaha Communications Director
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