Family Entertainment Series opens with introduction to opera for young audience

BRIA GRANVILLE | Staff Photographer
Addie Hamilton and Lorenzo Garcia of the Company’s Young Artists program practice a scene during the rehearsal of “Bravo! Bravo!.” The show will be performed at 6 p.m. tonight in Smith Wilkes Hall.

It’s a musical beginning for this year’s Family Entertainment Series at Chautauqua Institution.

Chautauqua Opera Company will present the first performance of the series titled “Bravo! Bravo!,” an opera revue, at 6 p.m. today in Smith Wilkes Hall. “Bravo! Bravo!,” a title coined just a few days before the actual show by one of the directors, is a basic introduction to opera for a young audience. There will be two more performances of this show on July 14 and Aug. 4.

Miriam Charney, accompanist and music director for Family-Friendly Opera Revue — also called the “living, walking Wikipedia of opera” by co-director Andy Gale — said they started conceptualizing the show in winter last year. They worked with Chautauqua Opera’s music administrator and chorus director Carol Rausch and a template she created for a similar program in New Orleans.

Charney and Gale are not putting this together alone: Teddy Kern, choreographer and director, rounds out the trio.

The show will consist of basic opera vocabulary — different composers from Mozart to Aaron Copland. There will be a huge variety of music, in different languages such as French, Italian, German and English.

“The three of us, the triumvirate, have equally participated in the writing and creating of this piece. This has been a collaborative project,” Gale said. “All three of us are responsible for or to be blamed for what happens today.”

Company Manager Sara Noble said that the show would include The Barber of Seville, which will feature the singing barber pretending to shave one of the children in the audience. The grand finale of the show will by Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land. The singers will then take questions from the audience.

This is only the second year of the Opera Revue. The first year was “an adventure,” Kern said. This year, the performance includes the eight of the company’s Young Artists, all of whom are between 20 and 30 years of age.

The trio has been coming to Chautauqua for years and one of the reasons they love coming back is the sense of collaboration. For them, Chautauqua is like the magical village of Brigadoon, which appeared every 100 years — except that Chautauqua appears every summer.

“It appears, it’s magical and then disappears, and it’s ever constant when it’s here,” Gale said.