Cincinnati, OH – In the hot, summer months, the opera scene in most cities seems to take a long siesta. Cincinnati, Ohio, however, has been one of the nation’s premiere summer opera locations for quite some time. In fact, this season marks Cincinnati Opera’s 90th anniversary making them the second oldest opera company in the US. This year’s slogan, “Still fresh after 90 years,” proved to be quite true at the opening performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Check out their remaining shows this month: Otello and La Boheme – www.cincinnatiopera.org
More and more opera companies today are devoting extra time trying to create an experience that goes beyond the story that you see on-stage. What was special about your last visit to the opera? Sure, a great performance is why we pay for the ticket, but with so many types of entertainment now a days, people demand a remarkable experience from the time they step foot in the theater. Each added feature to my evening at Cincinnati Opera’s Die Meistersinger made the experience much more notable than the many operas that I have attended this past year.
The strikingly beautiful Cincinnati Music Hall, a historic landmark, certainly set the mood for the evening, but what stimulated the senses even more was a brass quintet playing outside of the hall. It was as if you had your own sound track as you entered the building – a simple touch that captured your attention even before you set foot in the theater. Once inside, you had the opportunity to visit a number of tables filled with food, books, jewelry, and Cincinnati Opera items. Many companies include these different facets in an evening at the opera but what was special about these tables was the attention to detail. Everything was carefully thought out, they featured many local business, and it continued to heighten my experience. To top everything off, at the end of each intermission there was a trio of buglers that played a short fanfare to acknowledge the next act was about to begin. This was certainly the most memorable part of the experience other than the actual performance itself. Sure, these additions are rather simple, but what is important is that these special nuances could be the tipping point in exciting an audience member and sending them out from the hall to tell their friends about the opera. What are other opera companies doing to ignite an audience member to share their experience with others? Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool. Bravo, Cincinnati Opera!
After a number of big name casting changes, including the cancellation of Cincinnati native, Maestro James Levine (back surgery), Cincinnati Opera had some major shoes to fill even before the start of their season. Surely, there was a great amount of worry and disappointment since the performers had been booked since 2007, but after the first act the anxiety vanished. One of the highlights of the evening happened to be Maestro Levine’s replacement, Maestro John Keenan. He led this juggernaut of an opera (4 and a 1/2 hrs long) with great poise and beautiful artistry. The other remarkable performers were: Norbert Ernst (David), who had a strong and flexible timbre; James Johnson (Hans Sachs), a strong actor with a great legato line; and Morris Robinson (A Night Watchman), who had one of the smallest roles, but definitely packed a punch as he had one of the most exciting voices on the stage. Outside of the music – sets, costumes, lighting, and choreography – everything culminated into a very memorable night at the opera.
Otello – July 7th and 10th
La Boheme – July 21st, 23rd, and 25th