‘French Masterpieces’ from Opera Vox


October 13th, 2017

Photo courtesy of Opera Omaha

Omaha, NE—If you’re not acquainted with the talent of Opera Omaha’s performers yet, this Sunday morning might be a chance with Opera Vox, a new performance series in collaboration with Gallery 1516 and Hal France. This isn’t an opera or selections from opera, but rather song cycles for voice and piano. Visitors can enjoy a light breakfast, coffee and art song.

Sean Kelly, Head of Music at Opera Omaha and pianist for the morning:

“It’s a relatively short recital,” Kelly said. “It’ll be about an hour and fifteen minutes of total music. It’s Sunday morning. People are maybe a little sleepy. Maybe they’re on their way from somewhere or on their way to somewhere. It’s not the evening’s entertainment, it’s a nice way to start your Sunday, so we wanted things that were evocative of this kind of repertoire—easy to digest. Something that you can have a cup of coffee and kind of think about—close your eyes and let the colors take you somewhere, but this isn’t going to require too much brainpower or attention span. They’re very evocative and colorful pieces but they’re not heavy or they’re not going to require that much long concentration from the audience.”

This Sunday is all French, a song cycle by Claude Debussy—“Ariettes oubilees, performed by Chabrelle Williams—and “Les nuits d’ete” by Hector Berlioz, sung by Jessica Johnson Brock. Holland Opera Community Fellows Brock and Williams talked about the differences between singing opera and art song.

“It’s a different way of singing when you’re singing art song than singing opera,” Brock said, “and that’s a very different experience for an audience member to hear what voices that have a larger sound are going to sing, maybe in a more aggressive manner in a lot of ways, to be in a small gallery space, to take that back and to make it more intimate. I think even the Berlioz, which is the most aggressive of the pieces, has just this much more intimate quality about it where we can all kind of experience it together without it feeling like performer-audience.”

“I do like to think of art song as more intimate than opera because an opera you’re usually playing a character or interpreting a role,” Williams said. “In art song you’re really using your own mind to interpret a poem or maybe a prose of some sort, but it’s your personal connection to a piece or a poem or a song. So I think it’s a little bit more personal, and I tend to like recitals most of the time a lot more than opera, actually.”

Opera Vox will continue every month as part of Gallery 1516’s Bagels and Sometimes Bach Series with new themes and styles. French Masterpieces is this Sunday, October 15th at 11:30am at Gallery 1516. Opera Vox is free performance, but donations are appreciated. Registration is encouraged, but not required. For more information, search “Opera Vox Omaha” online.


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