Opera Wyoming mixes Shakespeare and bootleggers into a new sonic cocktail - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Opera Wyoming mixes Shakespeare and bootleggers into a new sonic cocktail

Johanna Swisher, Fathom Swanson, Steven Spicher and Andrea Boyer Sipe with Opera Wyoming pose in costume for publicity stills recently. Opera Wyoming is presenting a mashup of opera and Shakespeare this Friday evening. (Courtesy Opera Wyoming)

“If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me…you dirty rat.”

If you’ve ever wondered why the great words of Shakespeare couldn’t be spoken in opera form by 20s-era bootleggers, wonder no more.

Opera Wyoming is making all that happen with their next performance, which takes place this Friday, Jan. 25, at the Nicolaysen Art Museum.

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This is the third performance in Opera Wyoming’s inaugural season, and it’s also their most ambitious.

“This has been one of the most fun shows we’ve done yet,” said Opera Wyoming marketing director Cathy Becker.

“We’re doing Shakespeare in the 1920s,” said Becker. The Bard’s works used as inspiration include “Romeo and Juliet,” “Taming of the Shrew” and “Macbeth.” The plot involves 20s-era gangsters getting involved in rival crime families.

The program promises all the tragedy of a great opera, mixed with humor and stylish costumes made by Fathom Swanson-Paad.

The unusual and lighthearted material is in step with Opera Wyoming’s mission.

“This is not an old stodgy opera company,” said Becker, “it’s a young dynamic and talented group of people and I want to reach across all age groups.”

The company was formed by Daniel Quineana and wife Emily, who sing and act as the company’s artistic and executive directors, respectively.

Daniel and Emily performed a similar piece with Opera New York a decade ago.

“It was a transformative performance that challenged us as artists and became one of our most treasured experiences,” said Emily Quineana in her director’s notes for the program. “We wanted to create a similar experience for our Wyoming family of artists and patrons.”

Emily praised the artists involved in Opera Wyoming, comparing them favorably to the artists she and Daniel worked with in New York.

“I just think that really says a lot about the caliber of people that we have,” said Becker.

There will be one more performance after this in Opera Wyoming’s first season.

“The last show is what we’re calling ‘Opera by Request,’ so we want the communities input into what their favorite opera or aria is, and then Daniel, Emily and the bored will choose what makes the final show,” said Becker.

Opera Wyoming Presents: Shakespeare Goes to the Opera will be performed on Friday, Jan. 25, at the Nicolaysen Art Museum. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., performance starts at 7 p.m. General admission is $12 at the door or at Opera Wyoming’s website. 

Daniel Quineana works with pianist Susan Stubson during an Opera Wyoming rehearsal last October at Grace Reformed Church in Casper. The new group was preparing for its first performance of its inaugural season. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Pianist Susan Stubson, rehearsing last October, will perform the musical accompaniment for Opera Wyoming’s upcoming performance. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)