Often, opera comes off as a very unapproachable genre to sit through. With high admission price tags, and a language barrier, Opera is an acquired taste that many haven’t experienced.
Opera Piccola of San Antonio hopes to change that Opera perception. Created in 2012 by Mark Richter, the intent was to bring a nationally recognized, professional chamber opera in the Alamo City while making it affordable and approachable for the community. The word “piccola” means small in Italian, alluding to the mission of producing quality and exciting productions in intimate settings.
In it’s fourth year of producing professional operas, Piccola has plenty of surprises up their sleeve for their 2015-2016 season, with a variety of stories to satisfy all moods. All opera productions will be sung in English, and makes it easier for the community to understand and follow the plot.
The season begins Sept. 12-13 at the Carver Community Cultural Center (226 N. Hackberry) with a double bill. Firstly, Lee Hoiby’s “Bon Appetit,” a short comical opera based on cooking television star Julia Child who provides directions on how to bake a French Chocolate cake. (Or Le Gâteau au Chocolat L’Éminence Brune.) This opera has a sweet side to it and cake will be served to patrons during intermission. The second opera on the list is Douglas Moore’s “Gallantry,” a one-act hospital soap opera that involves a hilarious love affair. Show times are Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 13 at 2:30 p.m.
Next on the bill, Piccola introduces Mozart’s “The Abduction From the Seraglio,” and this production goes boldly where no opera has gone before. You guessed it. Space: The Final Frontier. Updated for today’s society, the Star Trek-themed opera has been translated into English and written by Pacific Opera Project artistic director Josh Shaw, who will also direct Piccoloa’s performance. According to the folks at Piccola, if you come in costume, you’re in for a surprise. “Abduction” will be performed Feb. 6 at 8 p.m and Feb. 7 at 2:30 p.m. at the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre. (226 N. St. Mary’s St.)
Piccola’s season concludes in May with another duo. Opera is going back to the basics with two baroque pieces, written almost 300 years apart. The first piece is Benjamin Britten’s “Phaedra,” a rarely performed piece that pays tribute to one of the most tortured figures in Greek mythology. Internationally renowned regular of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lyric Opera of Chicago, mezzo-soprano Jill Grove will make her San Antonio debut in this role. The second performance is George Frideric Handel’s “Acis & Galatea,” a story of jealousy about a demigod in love with a mortal. Both performances will be sung in English. Performance dates for closing season are May 21 at 8 p.m and May 22 at 2:30 p.m at the Empire Theatre.
Season ticket packages range from $36 to $120 and are available by calling 210.314.6696. Individual tickets range from $15 to $60 and can be purchased at operapiccolasa.com.
*Featured/top image: Pacific Opera Project put a “Star Trek” spin on Mozart’s “The Abduction From the Seraglio.” It will be produced by Opera Piccola for its 2015-16 season. Photo courtesy Pacific Opera Project.