Repertory Opera Company Presents Aida [Dedicated]
By: Natalie Bates
Opera: beautiful, ethereal, otherworldly. We usually think that we have to travel to big, cosmopolitan cities to get to see this incredible art form, but we are lucky enough to have our very own opera company right here in the Inland Empire!
Now in its 12th season, Repertory Opera Company in Pomona puts on a full season of world-class operas every year, including such well-known pieces as Verdi’s La Traviata and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. For LizBeth Lucca, founder and artistic director of the Repertory Opera Company, opera has been one of her greatest loves. Forming this opera company has provided Lucca a chance to share her passion and talents with the greater Inland Empire area while giving others an opportunity to follow their passions as well. “Opera is an endeavor that uses every part of your abilities. It is physical, mathematical, emotional, yogic. When you are singing opera you are fully engaged and creative.”
So how did the Repertory Opera Company get its start? Lucca shared, “Several singers, our now Musical Director (Brian Farrell) and I were sitting around a table in my acting studio. We were bemoaning the fact that there are so few performance opportunities for the many young talented opera singers in the Los Angeles area. So we decided to start a concert opera company, where we would just gather in someone’s front room and sing through an opera every couple of months. We went around the table and everyone chose an opera they would like to sing: Carmen, Elixir of Love, Macbeth, La Boheme, and La Traviata. So we started working on Carmen, but the thing is, it was sounding so beautiful we had to do more. So I rented a small theater in Hollywood and we semi-staged it. And we went on from there. Now we are in our 12th season, moving to [our current location in] Pomona in season five. Aida is our 37th full opera production.”
Considered to be the grandest of Italian opera, Verdi’s Aida tells the story of an Ethiopian princess named Aida who is enslaved by the Egyptians. During her captivity, she falls in love with the Egyptian military commander, Radames. However, the Pharoah’s daughter, Amneris, is also in love with Radames and had hoped to marry him. Upon discovering Radames is in love with another, Amneris becomes furious with jealousy and will stop at nothing to destroy Aida.
When deciding which opera the company would be performing, Lucca stated, “I don’t often sing in the Repertory Opera Company productions, but this opera was chosen for me. The bad girl role of Amneris is perfectly written for me. I can sing the whole two hours and vocally feel like I can turn around and sing it again.”
Putting on a production of this magnitude is not without its challenges though. Lucca said, “It is a big production, lots of singers. It requires extremely talented people for the leads. And you have to bring something of the exotic flavor of Egypt.” Luckily, exceptionally talented performers don’t seem to be in short supply at the Repertory Opera Company.
In referring to the cast members of the upcoming production of Aida, Lucca shared, “Sean Michael Hughes is ROC’s Young Artist, and he is singing the King of Egypt. John Herceg is an amazing talented singer who sang his first roles with ROC. And then there is Michael Margulies who is an experienced bass and a professional orchestral tuba player. Coril Prochnow, who is singing one of the Aidas, has sung many roles with ROC including Tosca and recently returned from Russia where she premiered an opera about Frida Kahlo. Our other Aida, Dabney Ross Jones, is singing her first Aida, which will be a spectacular role for her career.”
Not only talented, the cast behind Repertory Opera Company is also diverse. Lucca said, “One thing we are always proud of is our multi-generational casts. We have an 80-year old retired physicist and a seventh grader from El Robles Middle School.”
For Lucca, staging these performances goes beyond just putting on a good show for the audience; it is also a chance to form a connection between the singers and the audience and provide opportunities for performers to do what they love. “Opera, music, the human voice are all the epitome of energy and community. We are putting actual positive energy into the universe. The people who are singing are using their talents and their energies to create a communal experience for themselves and the audience. I love to see young artists singing their first roles, young children singing with adults for the first time, and talented singers who have chosen other day jobs but still have an opportunity to let their light shine. I love to see a group of individuals come together to create and experience beauty together.”
Interested in getting involved with the Repertory Opera Company? “Nothing goes on that stage or in the audience that someone didn’t put the time, energy and talent in to make happen. Anyone who would like to help in any way—sponsor one hour of musical rehearsal, one costume or one artist, volunteer to paint sets or usher—they can always contact me [LizBeth Lucca] through the ROC website: www.repoperaco.org.”
The Repertory Opera Company’s 12th season is halfway over now, but there is still time to catch a performance. In addition to Aida, they will also be performing Viva Diva! on Saturday July 16th at 4p.m., and Manly Men of Opera on Saturday, August 21st at 5 p.m.
Repertory Opera Company’s production of Aida runs Saturday May 21, 28 and June 4, 2016 at 2 p.m., and on Wednesday May 25, 2016 at 7:30p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for students/children. Tickets can be purchased online. Performances are held at the First Christian Church, 1751 N Park Ave., Pomona, CA 91766. For more information, please visit their website www.repoperaco.org or call (909) 230-4949 or (909) 230-4949 . Follow the Repertory Opera Company on Facebook to keep up to date with upcoming shows!
Full Disclosure: This artilce is sponosred by Repertory Opera Company, however any opinions expressed are 100% our own.