Opera group celebrates music of Spain
Elgin, Il. 06/23/11-Amateur opera performance company is doing a program of Spanish music. The students of Channing Elementary School of Elgin rehearse. | Joe Cyganowski~for Sun-Times Media
Ole! La Fuerza de Musica!
Elgin OPERA, Kimball Street Theatre, Rider Center (lower level)
350 Park St., Elgin Academy campus, Elgin
7 p.m. Saturday July 9 and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 10
Admission is $10
Call (800) 838-3006 and mention event 175874 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/175874
Updated: July 8, 2011 9:08AM
A celebration of Spanish culture will be presented in three languages — Spanish, French and English Saturday and Sunday in Elgin. The title of the event is translated as “the force of music,” and it signifies the powerful influence of Spanish and Latin American music and dance on diverse cultures.
“There will excepts from ‘Carmen” in French,” said Kimberly Albrecht of Barrington, chair of the Elgin Opera Training and Performing Ensemble. The English part of the program is — no surprise — selections from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.” Spanish selections include works by composers such as de Falla and Granados.
“The Elgin Opera Training and Performing Ensembles will present the program,” Albrecht said. “In addition to its members, more than 30 children from Channing Elementary School will perform transitional Spanish songs and ensemble pieces.”
They will be accompanied on the piano by Harper College music faculty member Chiayi Lee, who plays regularly for Elgin Opera programs.
Singers from all over
The EOTPE, Albrecht noted, draws its performers from all over the suburbs, from as far as Naperville and Winthrop Harbor, to nearby towns like Libertyville, as well as Barrington and Elgin itself, making it a truly regional company.
Albrecht is a soprano and in addition to producing the program, she will be singing. Her son Eric, a bass/baritone and daughter Brittany will also take part.
Among professional singers in the program is veteran baritone William Powers, who lives in Barrington, but whose career has taken him throughout the United States, Europe and South America.
He created the role of the villain Meyer Wolfsheim in the world premiere of John Harbison’s “The Great Gatsby” at the Metropolitan Opera. He has just returned from his annual tour of the United States with the Teatro Lirico d’Europa, singing roles in “Riogoletto,” “Lucia di Lammermoore” and “Turandot.”
Powers delights in playing the opera’s “bad guys,” and his first CD was titled “Rogues & Villains.” His most recent recording is titled “The Worst of William Powers,” and was featured as a premium in WFMT’s recent on-air fund drive.
“Between the two discs I play 25 of opera’s evil-doers — murderers, miscreants, devils from Gounod, Meyerbeer, and Boito,” he said, laughing. “I sing Iago, Wagner’s Alberich, plus the ultimate rascal of them all, Verdi’s Falstaff.”
For the Spanish program in Elgin, he will sing the ever-popular “Toreador Song” from “Carmen.” “It is in French but the story is set in Spain,” he said.
“I am not the right age to play a bullfighter anymore,” he continued, “so instead, I reminisce about my glory days in the ring. It works very well that way.”
His appearance is his gift to the community. “I’ve had much success,” he admitted, “and I want to give back.
Elgin OPERA is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. It was founded in the spring of 2001 by French-Canadian soprano Solange Sior, who serves as its artistic director and operates a vocal studio in Elgin. Sior uses the word opera to stand for Opera Professional Entertainers Repertoire Association. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance from the University of Montreal and was an apprentice with the Lyric Opera (now Ryan) Center for American Artists in Chicago.
Her company, which serves the Fox Valley area, presents three to four productions a year, some operatic concerts with piano, others full operas with orchestra at the Hemmens Cultural Center. Recent operas have been accompanied by the New Millennium Orchestra, conducted by its founder Francesco Milioto, who also serves as assistant conductor at Ravinia. The company also presents chamber ensembles, an outreach program and a vocal competition.
“For the past two summers we had a big music festival for the community,” Sior said, “but this year the bad economy caught up with us and we simply couldn’t afford it. So we are doing the Spanish program and looking forward to better times.”
In cooperation with the Elgin Choral Union, the company will present a concert in remembrance of the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City. It will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 11 in the Hemmens, and the program includes John Adams’s “On the Transmigration of Souls” and the Brahms “Requiem.”
Elgin OPERA is now in the midst of a $20,000 fund-raising drive, spurred by the Florence B & Cornelia A. Palmer Foundation, which is matching 50 cents for every dollar the company can raise.
For information, visit www.elginopera.org/index.