Through all its ups and downs and booms and busts, there is one thing that Wyoming has never had.
That changes tonight as Wyoming’s first ever opera company takes the stage when Opera Wyoming performs their inaugural program “A Night at the Opera” at the Nicolaysen Art Museum. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the performance starts at 7:00 p.m.
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The company has been practicing for months now, leading up to the opening program that features a “greatest hits” of arias and songs from a number of composers.
“It’s all challenging because there are no real blueprints for how this works,” said singer Roni Turner of the brand new endeavor.
Turner, a classically trained voice instructor at Casper College, is excited to be part of a new arts organization starting from the ground up in spite of the challenges.
Turner has experience performing in everything from single recitals to small ensemble to full opera productions. Getting novices comfortable with opera is one of the group’s missions.
“It’s not that different from musical theatre,” explains Turner, who also teaches musical appreciation at the college. “It’s very similar in idea to musicals, it’s just that there is no talking and it tends to be in a foreign language. The plots are similar, it’s about love and betrayal and happiness…it’s just that the singing requirements tend to be a little more technical than you’d have in a musical,” said Turner.
Another key difference is complete reliance on natural voice.
“There are no mics for the singers, it’s completely self-amplified over an orchestra,” said Turner.
In Opera Wyoming’s case, the “orchestra” parts will be handled by pianist Susan Stubson. Performances with the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra may be down the line, but not this season.
The new company is the brainchild of Daniel Quineana and wife Emily, who sing and act as the company’s artistic and executive directors, respectively.
The two lived in Las Vegas and New York before moving to Casper in 2014 and eventually decided bring opera to the state.
“We’re still in the beginning stages of figuring things out, but we know what makes an opera company work and we know what doesn’t,” said Quineana. “Since we’re in an untested market, we’re going to focus Opera Wyoming as Wyoming’s opera company…based in Casper and it will travel around Wyoming.”
The traveling performances of the company will include local talent in the towns they perform, said Quineana.
Alicia Danielle Roberts, a manager and teacher at Vibes, was invited to join the company after the Quineanas saw her perform at a recital. “I was excited, I like the concept of it,” said Roberts, who is excited to share the music and hopefully make new fans.
“Opera is everywhere, it’s in movie soundtracks it’s in commercials, but you just don’t necessarily realize that’s opera melody you’re hearing.”
Opera Wyoming’s first performance is tonight, Oct. 12, at the Nicolaysen Art Museum. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Learn more about Opera Wyoming and see dates for future performances by visiting their Facebook page and their website.