Column by President Thomas M. Becker
A chorus of witches will greet you Saturday night in the Amphitheater as Jay Lesenger’s Chautauqua Opera Company performs Verdi’s Macbeth (oops, the Scottish Play). Lest you think there is nothing to the curse accompanying the utterance of the title of this play in the theater, you should know that the day of rehearsal the Massey Organ was mysteriously muted, the sound system went on the blink, and the recording system failed utterly. So, Saturday night, you will be treated to Verdi’s remarkable retelling of the Scottish Play.
We hope that, whether opera is a passion in your life or you have never had an inkling of interest in this elaborate art form, you will take this occasion to attend and bring with you the youngest and oldest members of your family. For many, witnessing opera in the Amphitheater is the beginning of a passion for the work. For children, it is an opportunity to experience the human voice as an instrument of exquisite beauty. And Jay Lesenger brings a brilliant touch to the dramatic artistry of this work.
Keep an eye out for fellow Chautauquans among the ghosts, Cardinal and other supernumerary roles.
On July 3, we hosted a visit of some 100 art students from an elite high school in Hong Kong. They performed as a chorus and instrumental orchestra in front of the Colonnade. Later, I had the great joy of watching these exuberant, talented young men cavort on Bestor Plaza in ragged pick-up soccer games with young Chautauquans. Two of the recipients of the family scholarship this year are members of the Chautauqua Striders organization that works at involving area young people in productive activities and relationships. Thursday night’s performance of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra featured the premiere of the wildly talented Daniel Bernard Roumain’s “Meditations on Raising Boys.” Some of the members of the chorus in that production were young boys from Jamestown who had never seen much less participated in an orchestral work.
We build community through participation. We encourage young and old alike to take some chances. On Sunday afternoon the Chautauqua Community Band, a remarkable group of volunteers from the community, will celebrate its 25th anniversary in the Amphitheater. And Chautauqua Theater Company’s Our Town will close its run with three performances — one Saturday afternoon and two on Sunday. This is a production to witness as a family as it evokes the humanity of family and place in a way that is both timeless and remarkably, largely through casting, of our time.
Welcome to Chautauqua’s Week Three. Dig in.