Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

April 18, 2014

New Opera Project looks to the future

TRAVERSE CITY — Many operas have vocal challenges which make them unsuitable for young performers’ developing voices.

Scott Skiba, an Interlochen Arts Academy voice and opera theater instructor had that challenge in mind when he called on the Academy’s considerable student talent to create their own.

The result is the New Opera Project, a long-term experiment during which composition and creative writing students collaborated on short operas — ones intended for the voices of the school’s opera theater and music students. Skiba said they’re unlike operas most audiences have seen or heard.

“There’s a certain type of stereotype of what opera is and a certain reality that I believe, and they don’t match up,” said Skiba, referring to a common criticism of traditional opera as out-of-touch, opulent and irrelevant. “This shows the flexibility of the art form and where it can go and what it can do. It’s got everything opera is, but a different feel. It’s more accessible.”

“Scenesence” revolves around a young man who receives news of a terminal illness and is torn between memories of childhood and progressing toward the end of his life. “The Lottery” is the story of what happens when tradition causes an individual to forsake responsibility for a situation and instead rely on a mob mentality to share the blame. “Yellow’s Bruises” is about the reaction of a blue family when it gives birth to a yellow daughter and ultimately destroys her.

The operas premiere April 18 and 19 at the InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City — part of an evening of new music by more than 50 students.

The program begins at 7 p.m. with composition students performing their original music, followed by the New Opera Project at 8 p.m. Singer-songwriters round out the entertainment with their music starting at 9 p.m.

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