From the Artistic Director: James Meena
Fresh off the heels of celebrating 50 years, Opera Grand Rapids continues to elevate the vocal arts with its community-supported professional opera productions, creating opportunities for local talent to work alongside star-studded international artists.
Productions of Mozart’s final masterpiece The Magic Flute and Verdi’s La Traviata join other outstanding performances and programs to create yet another stunning season of opera in West Michigan. We asked Maestro James Meena to share with us why he selected these two classic productions for Opera Grand Rapids 51st season.
Why these selections, The Magic Flute and La Traviata, this year? What draws you to them?
These are two masterworks of the opera cannon that are beloved by opera goers across the globe, and which are excellent operas for first timers. Our Grand Rapids audiences have shown time and again that they revere Mozart, as do I, and we expect the opening of this new season to be a tremendous success with the production of his masterpiece The Magic Flute. Since the grand opera is being performed in English, at DeVos Performance Hall, it is the perfect opera to introduce young people. The Magic Flute is a comedy and for audiences to appreciate the immediacy of the piece, English is the right choice.
We have been considering performances at St. Cecilia for several months. Knowing that the company last performed The Student Prince there, we wanted to truly test the venue with a traditional opera. La Traviata is ideal to showcase great talent like Elizabeth Caballero performing her signature role of Violetta Valery in a setting that is intimate and immediate – just like Verdi’s great opera. Elizabeth and I performed La Traviata a few seasons ago. She is an exceptional artist and presenting exceptional artists in beautiful productions is our goal every time the curtain rises.
The experience of attending an opera performance is unlike anything else. Opera speaks to us on both an emotional and intellectual level at once. The timeless stories of the Opera speak to people of all generations and ethnicities. The music is iconic, familiar and moving, which is why we continue to perform masterpieces like Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Verdi’s La Traviata.