Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – Painted Sky Opera will hold a Masquerade Ball on Friday, November 10 in the historic confines of the downtown Skirvin Hotel. The black-tie gala will support the professional opera troupe’s education programming and future productions at the Civic Center Music Hall.
According to leaders of the opera company, the ball will include performances by Painted Sky’s multi-talented singers, a silent auction, and drinks, dinner and dancing.
The fourteenth floor Venetian Room is the venue, organizers told The City Sentinel. The beautiful setting is “highlighted by its views of Oklahoma City and its 1930s décor. Masks are optional but encouraged.”
A press release from Rob Glaubitz, artistic director, stressed, “Part of the funds raised by the Masquerade Ball go towards Painted Sky Opera’s efforts to bring educational operatic programming to schools and community organizations in central Oklahoma. Painted Sky Opera has featured education as a part of its mission from its inception and has presented its ‘Introduction to Opera’ program at several schools and summer camps in the metro area.”
said Glaubitz. “We have expanded our educational programs this season in several ways, but the funds from the Masquerade Ball will help us reach more students by visiting more local schools as well as developing more active programs to allow students to participate in opera.”
Educational programs this year include presentations at schools and retirement centers in the city area, master classes for visiting artists at local institutions of higher education, and last month’s student performance of the classic Puccini opera, “Tosca.”
Glaubitz and his allies envision future productions for elementary students, with appearances at local schools and libraries and some daytime offerings.
Sponsorships are available that include a VIP pre-party and recognition. Painted Sky is a 501(c)(c) non-profit. A portion of all tickets and sponsorships is tax-deductible.
Painted Sky’s production of Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” concluded its run at the Civic Center Freede Little Theatre on October 8.
Glaubitz told The City Sentinel, “The excitement and energy of the audience for the student performance of ‘Tosca’ was truly awesome. Many of them were seeing their first opera ever. Because of the cost of tickets, few of them would have been able to attend without this free performance.”
The orchestra under Jan McDaniel provided robust sound and the memorable melodies of the great composer, offering a delight to the ears of attendees in the intimate space of the Freede.
As director Glaubitz said during production week, “’Tosca’ abounds with intrigue, romance, and betrayal. It plays more like a blockbuster movie than anything else, albeit one with some of the most riveting music ever written.”
Nicole Van Every is one of a group of Oklahoma City based professional singers who appeared in the production. Other local performers included tenors Joel Burcham and J Warren Mitchell, both of whom appeared as Tosca’s lover, Cavaradossi, on alternating performances. Both singers have successful performing careers outside of Oklahoma but relish performing for hometown audiences.
Burcham reflected on what it meant to peform the iconic role in his home town: “I’ve spent many a day and night on the road
performing opera. As much as I’ve loved the art and memories I’ve made, and the people with whom I’ve collaborated, my family isn’t there with me.” Burcham’s local fans (and family) shared the joy of all opera lovers at the packed-theatre performances of the production.
Sharing duties as the title character was Wisconsin native Saira Frank, who soared in Friday evening’s opening night and returned for the Sunday finale.
It’s a shame most fans of great music were only able to see one of the two stellar sopranos in this show, not to mention the magnificent male leads (Burcham shared the part of Cavaradossi with Mitchell; the sinister role of Scarpia was divided between Tom Sitzler and Thomas Cannon). These are six great singers and performers.
Rounding out the named cast were Kevin Eckard as the Sacristan, Justin Kroll as Spoletta, Jin Yu as Sciarrone and Jordan Andrew as the Jailer. There was nary a false note or gesture in the work of the supporting cast.
Glaubitz is fired up over support the local live opera company is getting. “The reception for opera in Oklahoma City has been incredible. I’m excited to see what the future brings.”
Painted Sky Opera’s second season of excellence is scheduled to continue in February and March with Stephen Temperley’s “Souvenir: a Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins.” It will conclude in May with “Three Decembers,” by Jake Heggie.