- Resident Artists
It never ceases to amaze me how each audience reacts differently to our opera. We have presented The Elixir of Love to kindergartners, children, teenagers, and adults of all ages, including an audience at a senior living community.
Sometimes the reactions are predictable: adult audiences tend to react to the things we say, while young children react to the things we do. Other times, a particularly resonant or reverberant acoustic causes the words to be less distinguishable. And in a few cases the lighting in the venue is so low I wondered whether we could even be seen at all. Then there is the exciting opportunity to perform in the beautiful theater at Eastern Oregon University, complete with stage lights and a hyper responsive audience. But even with without all these variables, it seems that watching an opera can mean wildly different things to our audiences.
I feel extremely fortunate to be an ambassador not only for opera, but for all the performing arts. So often it seems that performing arts organizations struggle to encourage people to attend. There's some sort of barrier between people's lives and a seat in an auditorium. We create new ways to get people to buy tickets and market our productions. But we often forget the effectiveness of going to our audience instead of asking them to come to us.
As rewarding as it is to be a performer, it is so much more rewarding to see the power that music and theater have on people. During The Elixir of Love, there is nothing like hearing the "oohs" and "ahhs" from the children when bubbles begin to float out of Dr. Dulcamara's cart. Or the way the children scream and yell at me in excitement as I run through the audience looking for the Doctor. Occasionally, I catch a glimpse of an audience member's face as Ainsley (as Adina) sings a soaring high C. It's as if they couldn't have ever imagined hearing someone's voice doing that.
I cannot begin to count all the smiling faces I see in the crowds, the appreciative "thank yous" and "bravos", and the eager and inquisitive questions from children and adults alike. I honestly think that what we bring to people is so much more than entertainment. Opera, even wrapped up as a cute and silly children's production, has the power to inspire and illuminate all kinds of feelings and ideas.
I have a Rumi quote on my wall at home: "Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."
As Portland Opera To Go artists, we not only have the opportunity to do this ourselves, but inspire thousands of others to do the same.
Tenor, Portland Opera To Go