Pianist Sean Kelly joins Opera Omaha for “Cosi fan Tutte”


February 7th, 2017

KELLY: “Even when I was studying piano seriously, I always listened to opera and there were singers that I liked, and composers and all the conductors that I liked that really had little to nothing to do with piano repertoire, which really should have given it away. Even back then, I wasn’t really going to be a “pianist” pianist, I was going to work with Opera.”

That was guest pianist, Sean Kelly will be performing with Opera Omaha this weekend in Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte” at the Orpheum Theatre. He studied opera in Italy, has worked with The Metropolitan Opera, and describes what it’s like to be the orchestra during rehearsal.

KELLY: “Mozart is always hard to play. As a rehearsal pianist we’re basically the substitute for the orchestra, the very economical way of having music for rehearsals. When Mozart was writing opera, the orchestra was just there so they would have rehearsals and the orchestra would be in the pit the whole time. What I actually have to play wasn’t written for the piano per-say, it’s the orchestra reductions. And it’s tricky, “Cosi” in particular, among the three da ponte operas I think “Cosi” is the hardest because there are a lot of notes and a lot of movements of the opera are very fast. My responsibilities once the orchestra shows up is to play the recitatives. So, in Mozart in this period of opera, it is kind of where the plot speeds along, then the plot kind of slows down for the musical numbers, and then everything kind of speeds back up and the plot gets rolling again in these recites and I am accompanying them on harpsichord.”

There is an updated dialogue to this present-day production.

KELLY: “This production is a modern-day production, it doesn’t change the story at all. The original takes place in a café where the three guys are hanging out and this production takes place in a bar. The unique thing about this production that I am loving is that the chorus really has a very small part if you just read it on paper. It shows up and does the fake military “ode to military life” and then it disappears and shows up a little bit at the end. In this production the chorus makes up all the people at the bar. Every chorus member has this personality, which they are loving completely because normally the chorus just functions as this personality-less blob, and it’s really bringing a completely new aspect to opera, because they are really a sextet of singers.

There are many reasons why this opera from Mozart is perfect for all audiences.

KELLY: “Mozart is a genius for many reasons, but he takes these very mundane, everyday things whether it is a simple melody or a simple, simple story or plot seed and just develops it into this amazing, beyond human idea. I think that is what I love, the simple origin of it, how Mozart is able to make it something that is just so divine.”

Kelly has enjoyed working and rehearsing with the team here in Omaha.

KELLY: “The rehearsal room is beautiful. It’s nice and big and bright. At the Met, the rooms are big but they are four stories underground, so you never see the sunlight. If you want to go outside it takes ten minutes to get out of the building. It’s a fantastic company, everybody really is happy to be there and making this magic that opera is.”

That was guest pianist and conductor, Sean Kelly. You can hear him performing this weekend in Opera Omaha’s production of Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte” Friday February 10th at 7:00pm and Sunday February 12th at 2:00pm at the Orpheum Theater, directed by Andrew Eggert and conducted by Steven White. Tickets are available at ticketomaha.com or by calling 402.345.0606. For more information, visit opreaomaha.org.

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