ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Peter Scott Drackley

Meet Spinto Tenor, Peter Scott Drackley, making his OGR debut in Scalia/Ginsburg this March.

Where are you originally from?
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Who has inspired you/been your greatest influence professionally? Why?
My voice teacher, Alexandra Lobianco, because she taught me how to sing in the most efficient way, and how to tell the amazing stories of opera and be in the moment of the character

Who/what brought you into the world of Opera?
My parents brought me into the world of opera. My father is a conductor/pianist, and he taught me about his favorite singers like Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, and Jussi Björling. My mother is a lyric soprano and voice teacher. Her favorite roles were the title role in Suor Angelica, Countessa in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Alice Ford in Falstaff. She was my first voice teacher, and I still check in with her. They are my biggest advocates and some of my most trusted ears.
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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT Chrissy Amon & Robert Byrens

Opera Grand Rapids welcomes Chrissy Amon and Robert Byrens for A Cabaret Unleashed—an evening of cabaret favorites, including some surprises! Do not miss this collaboration between two of our local gifted artists!

November 14, 2019 | 7:30 PM | Betty Van Andel Opera Center

Buy online or by calling the Box Office: 616.451.2741

These collaborators first became acquainted when Chrissy studied with Robert as a GVSU music student in 2005. Since then, Chrissy has mostly performed on opera stages across the USA but has always had an affinity for Broadway and cabaret music. Her work as a singing actor propelled her twice to the finals of the international Lotte Lenya competition hosted by the Kurt Weill Foundation in New York. After her return to the Grand Rapids area, she and Robert partnered as spirited collaborators, presenting concerts throughout our community. Since most opera patrons would recognize Robert as the most masterful of classical musicians (and 25-year rehearsal pianist for Opera Grand Rapids), it will be a treat to hear him unleashed! He was, after all, the star of his high school rock band.Read More >

TY COOK Meet One of the Leaders of Act I

Meet Ty Cook, one of the leaders of Act I, OGR’s young professionals group. Learn more about Act I here.

Where are you originally from?
I was originally born in Ann Arbor, MI at U of M (Go Blue), and raised in Flint, MI.

What do you do for a living?
I support arts & creativity as the CFO of Stevens Advertising.

My hobbies include discussing local and global arts, meeting new artists, finding new art mediums, and watching football.

Where is your favorite place to travel? Why?
I don’t enjoy traveling but when I do travel, I typically go somewhere by the lakeshore for day trips or to Windsor because you can go and come back in the same day.Read More >

Queen of the Night at ArtPrize

ArtPrize 10 brings opera to life again this year. Here are 10 opera-themed exhibits to include in your ArtPrize tour before you attend the Opera Grand Rapids Season Kick-Off Party on September 28. Most notable is a nod to our premiere opera this fall, Mozart ‘s The Magic Flute.  The “Queen of the Night” aria is depicted in three watercolor abstracts by Peg Sandin at the Venue Tower Apartments.

ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition that takes place in Grand Rapids over 19 days every other fall. Rapids. More than $500,000 in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts.

1. Queen of the Night: The excitement of the opera “The Magic Flute” is captured in lively 2-D watercolors on display at the Venue Tower Apartments.

2. First Flute: This welded metal wall composition, inspired by the idea of primal music being forged by the forces of Nature, can be seen at the Monroe Community Church.

3. Flute with Attitude: This 2-D oil painting is a celebration of whimsical music located at the B.O.B.

4. Opera Offering: Inspired by the Metropolitan Opera and composers Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Arturo Toscanini, this large scale 2-D laser print is combined with the surprise of sound and located at Grand Rapids City Hall.

5. The Last Bird on a Rainy Twilight: Existentialism is on display in this oil paintingdepicting “the last flying of the bird (of its own race) in a rainy morning is a warning for 21st-century thoughtful man” at Sweet House.

6. Silent Chorus: Showing at the Fountain Street Church, this sculpture uses the tragic chorus in classic theater – where the collective stood for the personal and was used to discuss issues affecting individuals and state – to depict the silent voices of women victims.

7. Society: This acrylic on silk painting of gray cinder blocks represent“a collection of similar, but unique, individuals that come together for a common purpose.” For some viewing it at the DeVos Place Convention Center, it may connote a “society of secrets” and the geometrical and architectural theme of Freemasonry.

8. 1934: This portrait of a young President Gerald Ford – a freemason – and Willis Ward is made up of 1934 thousand pieces of ripped paper and reference images from 1934. It is displayed at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

9. Satellite Collective’s Echo & Narcissus: Song, words and images come together in this 10-minute vocal and hand projected performance – an aria to illuminate the unrest and discord of our moment is featured at SiTE:LAB.

10. Orpheus: This is a mix of ancient Greek legend, Austro-Italian opera and German poetry, blended with the crafts of photography, song, poetry, recitation, translation and technology. The closing lyrics are thought to be the first time the aria has been sung in Greek. View it at the The ArtRanger – Mobile Art, Performance and Augmented Reality Experience.

Mozart’s The Magic Flute: A Masonic Opera

Mozart - the magic flute - a masonic opera narrated by Maestro James Meena Mozart’s The Magic Flute is universally recognized as being a masterpiece among masterpieces. This opera is an allegorical tale, not a fairy tale, and uses symbols to express truths about the human spirit. The overarching theme is: Harmony in human society can only be realized by the perfect union of man and woman, characterized by an equality that is achieved through pure love, strength of character, and the rituals of Freemasonry.

Mozart, like many of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was a Freemason. In the late 18th century, Freemasonry was considered a radical movement, aligned with the free thinkers of the Enlightenment. It was a threat to the aristocracy and established religion and, as such, was suppressed by the nobility and Vatican.

The opera is set in two polar opposite kingdoms: The Kingdom of Night – symbolized by the moon and the color silver, and ruled by the Queen of the Night. The Queen represents the Austrian empress Maria Theresa who oppressed Masonic Lodges. The Kingdom of the Temple of the Wisdom is symbolized by the sun and the color gold, and is led by the High Priest Sarastro who represents Ignaz von Born, leader of the Vienna Masonic Lodge of which Mozart was a member. These two kingdoms will only be reconciled by the union of opposing kingdom prince and princess Tamino and Pamina, respectively, and the victory of the sun (enlightenment) over the moon (the established order).

When we first meet Tamino he is running in fear from a serpent that represents his irrational ignorance of the Masonic Order. He is then lied to by the Queen to the Night and sent off to rescue her daughter Pamina from Sarastro. The rest of the opera is occupied by Tamino and Pamina finding pure love and enduring the Masonic trials of self-discipline through silence. They are ultimately purified by the basic elements of fire and water. Once they have successfully gone through these trials, Sarastro gives them the shield of the sun to be wise and benevolent rulers.

And why a magic flute? A common Masonic theme is that music has the power to transcend human fear and hatred. So, the moral of the story is that through the Masonic Order and guided by the beauty of music, society is enlightened – men and women equally.

The most memorable character in The Magic Flute is Papageno the birdcatcher, who was created to entertain the audience and further obscure the Masonic messaging of the plot. For the opera’s premier performances, the role of Papageno was played by actor Emanuel Schikaneder. Schikaneder was also the librettist for The Magic Flute and the owner of Teatre on Der Wien where the work premiered. Papageno is an Everyman and endures his own set of trials, at which he fails miserably. Yet, the kindly gods provide him a beautiful young wife and our Everyman couple populate the world with many little Papagenos and Papagenas. It’s a bit of a cynical comment that while there are few Taminos and Paminas, there are many Papagenos and Papagenas.

But why not just come out and say all of this? Well, remember that at the time of Mozart, Freemasonry was under a Papal bull of condemnation, and suppressed by the nobility. It was not only unfashionable, but potentially dangerous to be a Freemason. As you enjoy the delightfully brilliant music of Mozart in The Magic Flute, keep in mind the philosophical journey toward enlightenment that is shared by Tamino and Pamina.

Opera Grand Rapids’ production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute is being performed, in English, October 26th and 27th at DeVos Performance Hall. The production stars acclaimed artists John Viscardi as the comic Papageno and Jana McIntyre as the star-blazing Queen of the Night, with the Opera Grand Rapids Chorus and the Grand Rapids Symphony under the baton of Artistic Director, Maestro James Meena.

Initiation ceremony in a Viennese Masonic Lodge, during reign of Joseph II. The inside of what is thought to be the lodge New Crowned Hope (Zur Neugekrönten Hoffnung) in Vienna. It is believed that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is depicted at the extreme right, sitting next to his close friend Emanuel Schikaneder. Painting by Ignaz Unterberger (1748-1797) Click here to learn more.