The dicey/icy winter weather this weekend caused Springfield Regional Opera to postpone their production of Street Scene until sometime in May, according to Managing Director Tim Caldwell and Production Coordinator Seth Hunt. “We rely heavily on people in the community to do our shows. We had many students from MSU, Drury and Evangel involved. A lot of them are graduating, and we want to get them before they leave!” said Caldwell. Tickets already purchased for this weekend will be honored in May.
But SRO doesn’t “go dark” in the meantime. Their annual Jazz Aria fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday February 28 from 7 to 10pm at the Doubletree Hotel at Glenstone and Kearney. Tim Caldwell calls it “a gorgeous facility. We had to go bigger—last year we were at the Savoy Ballroom, which is a lovely space on Commercial Street. But we outgrew it.”
Caldwell calls Jazz Aria “the meeting place between jazz and opera. Les Brown and his jazz quintet work with opera singers, and do jazz arrangements of well-known opera arias—and jazz pieces and opera pieces.” Singing with Les and the quintet this year is Kansas City mezzo-soprano Stephanie Zuluaga. “She’s from the country of Colombia, but a native of Kansas City, studying at the Boston Conservatory, and she’s fantastic. She’s ridiculously pretty. And she sings salsa,” says Tim Caldwell.
The evening includes dinner, drinks, dancing, and of course, the music. Tickets are $60 and available at www.srolyrictheatre.org or by calling 863-1960.
And after a hiatus of several years, SRO has re-launched their successful Education Tour, where they take an opera production for children to every kindergarten and first-grade class in the Springfield R-12 district, with funding provided in part through the Kennedy Center’s “Any Given Child” program. This year they’re reviving John Davies’ The Three Little Pigs, which sets the pigs’ story to the music of Mozart.
SRO Production Coordinator Seth Hunt heads up the project. “For me, as an opera fan and an opera singer, it’s fun to bring opera to kids and introduce it to them. This may be music they never have a chance to hear anywhere else. It’s Mozart’s music, and John Davies has written his own libretto on top of it. It’s very cute, very funny.”
In addition to Kennedy Center funding, Tim Caldwell says the Education Tour was “fortunate to get a grant from the Darr Family Foundation to help us with this year’s program.” It’s scheduled to start touring R-12 elementary schools next week.
Then in April, SRO presents Terrence McNally’s play Master Class, based on the legendary Juilliard master classes of soprano Maria Callas in the early 1970s. As Tim Caldwell says, Callas had a “tremendous personality and these tremendous life experiences, and she was trying to bestow these onto her students. Some of the lessons fall hard.”
If you’re wondering why Springfield Regional Opera would produce a “stage play,” rest assured there is plenty of operatic music in this production, as Callas’ numerous students perform opera arias for her to critique. “Our (SRO) Young Artists are singing all of the roles of the students,” says Seth Hunt. Edie Robinette will play the role of Maria Callas. “She is a SAG (Screen Actors Guild member) actor in the area, and she’s wonderful.” Adds Tim Caldwell, “I’ve never seen someone invest so much time into perfecting a role—and we haven’t started rehearsals yet!”
Master Class will be performed April 24 and 25 at the Creamery Arts Center.