Arts & Culture

Brown Opera Productions kicks off semester

The Winter Arias Concert seeks to attract students, audience of various musical backgrounds

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Kaia Sargent ‘17, pictured above, was one of the seven singers who volunteered to be a part of the Brown Opera Productions’ Winter Arias Concert. The concert was free and open to anyone interested.

The Brown Opera Productions put on its first show of the semester, the Winter Arias Concert, on Friday, Jan. 27. The concert, an informal production, featured 10 singers and accompanying pianists and served as a way to welcome artists and students back to campus.

The genre of individual performances varied, ranging from theatrical musicals such as “Light in the Piazza” by Adam Guettel to more classic opera productions such as Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Singers were free to perform a piece of their choice.

“The Winter Arias Concert is a nice welcome back to Brown but also serves as a celebration of these people that have amazing talents,” said Isabel Thornton ’19, co-chair of the BOP Board.

Unlike other BOP projects, the Winter Arias Concert has no audition process. The organization strives to be as inclusive as possible of all students and singers of diverse musical backgrounds, Thornton said. Though most student performers had worked with BOP in the past, others were newcomers to the student organization.

“What we are trying to do with all of the projects we take on is appeal to people who wouldn’t necessarily be interested in something that has the label ‘opera’ on it,” said Sophie Urquhart ’18.5, co-publicity chair of the BOP Board and a performer in the concert. “With the Arias concert, that is particularly effective because people invite their friends who don’t know anything about opera and then experience it through someone that they know personally.”

In the past, BOP has sought to put on shows from a wide variety of operatic genres. “Last year we did the Beggar’s Opera, which was more of a folk opera,” said Flannery McIntyre ’19, publicity chair of the BOP Board. The year before that, BOP performed an opera by Astor Piazzolla that had never before premiered in the United States, McIntyre said.

This spring the student group is set to perform a rock opera inspired by The Who’s fourth studio album, “Tommy.” The decision to take on such a non-traditional opera goes hand in hand with BOP’s ambition to widen the Brown student population’s definition of the operatic genre, Thornton said.

“A lot of people think that they can only be part of the Brown Opera Productions if they have this classical musical background,” Thornton said.

BOP encourages students outside of the organization itself to perform in or direct the production company’s various projects, she added, noting that participants usually come from the music or theater community.

Looking forward, BOP hopes to both involve more creative minds and musically inclined students in their productions and grow their audience by reaching students who might not necessarily think of themselves as opera aficionados, Thornton said.

“We also have ambitions to do more operas that have been composed by students on Brown’s campus.” Thornton said. “We’re looking into maybe doing a piece that was composed by a student next fall.”

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