Opera is oftentimes considered exclusive, classical music made for a select few. However, Director of the Moores Opera House Buck Ross and Associate Producer Alan E. Hicks are here to tell you why this isn’t the case.
Ross describes the world of opera as an engaging combination of music and drama with countless moving parts.
“When it comes to directing opera, I’m dealing with set design, construction, costume design, foreign languages, drama, music singing, psychology, art translation and history,” he says. “In many ways, it is the perfect liberal arts profession where everything you learn is useful.”
Hicks agrees and describes opera as a satisfying and relatable culmination of all art forms made about the people for the people. “If you point to anyone on the street and take the most dramatic two hours of their lives, you can write an opera about them that people would enjoy.”
Ross believes that everyone can and should go to the opera. Viewers don’t have to learn about opera’s history or know the languages the libretto is sung in; it’s about the whole experience. He is also quick to point out that there are a ton of English operas and musicals accompanied by translated titles ready for mainstream audiences who are new to the art form.
Moreover, UH is putting on visually spectacular productions based on relatable repertoires such as “The Love for Three Oranges,” a satirical opera that explores the audience’s expectations, and “L’amico Fritz,” a spectacle about how love and irony are, at times, one in the same. UH shows also come with comprehensive supertitles, or translations projected above the stage, and demonstrative acting.
“I’m working with the performers to better communicate the story, so that the audience can infer what’s happening without having to look at the supertitles,” Hicks says.
Ross rejects the idea that opera is reserved for folks who can afford the performances. At the Moores Opera House, general admission tickets cost $20 while students pay only $12 for performances.
“Opera may have a reputation that it’s only for the wealthy or the elite, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The days of people wearing formal wear are over,” laughs Ross. “I even went to an opera wearing jeans, that’s for sure.”
Hicks understands that students are busy and usually stretched thin. Still, he urges everyone to go to the opera for an enriching experience they would not attain otherwise.
“You get things from live performances that you don’t get from recordings – audio or video. It’s just a different experience when you’re in the theatre; there’s community in being part of a live audience,” Hicks says. “No matter how tired I was, if I spent a good evening in the theatre, I’ve always felt energized afterwards.”