An opera set in space, it was a traditional hero story about good versus evil, human relationshipsand the choices we make that alter the fate of the universe. You don’t need to be in a land far, faraway to rehash these elemental themes that have endured on this planet.
Beyond the special effects and the puppets, the technology and Princess Leia’s anti-gravitationalbraids, these are the reasons George Lucas, creator of “Star Wars,” was able to connect with theaudience. He patterned his movies on an operatic structure. The emotions and basic, yetpowerful, relationships which are present in “Star Wars” are based on themes that opera has beenexploring and perfecting for centuries, sanctified in the “color” of an artists’ voice. Even thescore by composer John Williams, whom Lucas worked with, was heavily influenced byarguably the greatest opera composer the world has seen: Richard Wagner. However, instead ofa libretto with spectacular vocal performances, Lucas’ focus was spectacular special effects.An opera very often involves a simple story line - relationships that center around basic emotionslike love, hate, fidelity and jealousy. Choices are made - for better or worse - and someoneinevitably ends up fighting for a cause when all certainty has failed and the odds are against anychance of victory. Because these stories reflect the basic human conditions we all struggle with,the audience latches on immediately.
Then comes the performance. Belted out at top form, these same emotions resonate with anyaudience. While special effects on a screen certainly carries a “wow” effect, the air around anopera singer buzzes with a kinetic power that affects the audience in a way that is unique, andtouches the soul in the way no other art form can. Not even the surround sound in the most high-techmovie theatre can match that. The power of the opera experience will stay with the audiencelong after the lights come up. However, we all know the average person would rather sit throughStar Wars for the 30th time than go to an opera.
So why “Star Wars” and not opera? Well, Star Wars is cool. It is easy to watch, take in and it isvery entertaining. I am not going to try and tell you that watching an opera is easy. They don’teven allow popcorn in most concert halls. A good friend told me this week that it isn’t so muchthat she is against going to an opera. She isn’t afraid of the opera experience. The fact is, shesays, she is too impatient to sit through one. I appreciate her honesty. These days most of us areeither too impatient or tootired to endure much of anything over 120 minutes long.
At Fresco, we realize that many people who are interested in opera lead hectic lives, with hellishjob schedules, kid schedules, pet schedules, etc. We live in complex times and because of thatwe need quality down-time now more than ever. Movies are good. We feel opera is better.We are planning productions designed to give the audience a little window into the awesomenessof opera without taking up your entire afternoon. We also want to be able to produce aperformance that stays with you long after the lights come up, dare we say, a performance thatcan connect with the audience more than mere celluloid. We won’t compromise the music or theart form. On the other hand, you won’t be required to have advanced proficiency in fivelanguages just to enjoy a Fresco production.
If you have never experienced live opera, I would encourage you to mark March 5th on your calendar. “Dueling Divas” will be an experience for seasoned pros and music novices alike. It’sgoing to be at the Overture Center, with the best regionalopera talent squaring off in a contestunlike anything you have seen - perhaps similar to the experience of seeing “Star Wars” for thefirst time? Just to let you know, we are already campaigning to allow popcorn at theperformance...