A Night at the Opera

July 31

Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings.  ~ Robert Benchley



Starring soprano Siena Forest, tenor David Walton and bass-baritone Luke Williams and accompanied by Carson Rose Schneider
Friday, July 31st
7:30 pm

unnamed (1)

Unusual opera to perform in Alex (from Echo Press)

Theatre L’Homme Dieu’s second outdoor performance features Out of the Box opera company.

Siena Forest
Siena Forest

Theatre L’Homme Dieu will hold its second drive-in performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 31, when an uncommon Minneapolis opera company delivers a mashup of opera and musical theater.

Performers with Out of the Box will mix 19th century opera tunes with 20th century musical theater to create an evening of romance and comedy. Called “Love at a Distance,” it stars soprano Siena Forest, her husband, bass-baritone Luke Williams, and tenor David Walton, and is accompanied by Carson Rose Schneider on piano.

Out of The Box artistic director David Lefkowich is known for his unconventional strategies to bring opera to new audiences, including Diva Cage Matches that pit soprano against soprano in a wrestling ring, complete with judges, a master of ceremonies and an operatic death for the loser. The company’s fusion series combines opera with other forms of music, such as gospel and jazz.

For the theater’s outdoor performances, cars will face the stage and be appropriately distanced. Attendees can choose to stay in their cars and listen to the performance on FM radio or bring lawn chairs and sit outside.

The theater had a full summer schedule planned before the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to performances throughout the country. It has put in place the following safety measures:

  • Patrons who feel sick or has COVID-19 symptoms should go home.
  • Cars must be parked in designated parking places. They will be grouped by size to ensure quality sight lines for all patrons.
  • Only theater-goers who live together should be in a vehicle together.
  • Alcohol is not permitted.
  • Restroom facilities are not available except in case of emergency.
  • Masks are required for those who get out of their cars.
  • Patrons should not approach other guests.
  • Theater-goers who leave their cars should sit close to their vehicle and practice social distancing.

Luke Williams

OK, my turn . . . 

[First shot of the day.  The light shining in our bedroom window awakened me in the wee small hours of the morning.  Not too bad for a hand held shot . . . ]

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[I believe all operatic festivities are required to begin with a fine dining activity.  Here the group alights at Interlachen . . . ]

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[Because I know about as much about opera as I know about . . . opera, this missive will be interlaced with quotes from those who actually know (or pretend to know) something about the subject matter . . . ]

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[The Super knitted (crocheted?) a mask for Karin, making them pandemic twins . . . ]

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[Arrival at the venue . . . ]

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[From our box seats location . . . ]

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[Random backwards shots over my head at the arriving aficionados . . . ]

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The new nine muses are Commerce, Operatic Music, Amor, Publicity, Manufacture, Liberty of Speech, Plural Voting, Gastronomy, Private Hygiene, Seaside Concert Entertainments, Painless Obstetrics and Astronomy for the People.  ~  James Joyce

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[These are either theater board members, or baseball fans.  I guess you could be both . . .]

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[Known to be local practitioners of vocal talents . . . ]

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[Never met a jazz or blue grass concert they didn’t like . . . ]

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[A shout out again to a board member and sponsor of the event . . . ]

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[Who was that masked man?]

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I can’t listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland.  ~  Woody Allen

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[Executive Director Nicole Mulder takes the stage with Out of The Box artistic director David Lefkowich to introduce the program . . . ]

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No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.  ~ W. H. Auden

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[Let ‘er rip!!]

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Staid middle age loves the hurricane passions of opera.  ~  Mason Cooley

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[And a brief introduction as to what Out of the Box is all about . . . ]

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The activity of a singer that sings opera is similar to that of an athlete.  ~  Andrea Bocelli

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In opera, there is always too much singing.  ~  Claude Debussy

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[Leading off, tenor David Walton (not to be confused with the Boy Tenor of the local Salty Dogs) . . . ]

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For me, a diva is like the great opera singer, the great film star – out of reach, in their own world, with a real gift for invention: attention-demanding performance artists with a flamboyant, compelling sense of their own importance so special and inimitable it verges on the alien.  ~  Grace Jones

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Even in today’s opera world, the position of the black tenor is problematic.  ~  Bobby Short

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[Batting 2nd, soprano Siena Forest . . . ]

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What opera isn’t violent? Two things happen, violence and love. And other than that, name something else. You can’t.  ~  Cab Calloway

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[And the bass, Luke Williams . . . ]

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Sergio Leone has this weird western opera thing.   ~  Ethan Coen

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[And it may have been somewhere around here that Siena mentioned she had to kiss David during a performance.  He had eaten chili as the pre-performance meal, and she found that a bit unsettling.  She said one should always cleanse one’s mouth before such a performance.  And she noted that he tells that story on himself . . . ]

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[Which begs the question, I wonder if I . . . ]

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When you are up close to an opera singer, hearing this incredible volume of noise coming from a human being – it’s beyond belief.  ~  Eve Best

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The opera always loses money. That’s as it should be. Opera has no business making money.  ~  Rudolph Bing

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The favorite thing I like to do is nothing. I’m such an expert at doing nothing. I have a boat. I make training films for the Coast Guard. I listen to a great deal of opera.  ~  Charles Nelson Reilly

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The voice muscle doesn’t last forever. I have a lot of friends who are classical and opera singers. My friend Beverly Sills stopped singing in her 50s, so I’m careful with mine. But I’ll keep going as long as it lets me.  ~  Johnny Mathis

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I also met, early on Ella Fitzgerald. Her songbooks are some of the most amazing bodies of work.  ~  Johnny Mathis  [Full disclosure:  I have “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Songbook,” one of my all-time favorites.]

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More and more, we’re used to taking things in through the eyes rather than through the ears, and opera is more of a spectacle.  ~  Daniel Barenboim

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[A wonderful evening of opera . . . ]

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[and of show tunes . . . ]

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[of fun . . . ]

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[brought to us by people of extraordinary voice . . . ]

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[on a beautiful evening in Vacationland USA . . . ]

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[Many thanks again to Out of the Box opera company . . . ]

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[Who know how to bow like opera performers . . . ]

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Opera is the most complete art form. It includes drama, acting, technology (lighting), art (the sets), dance, and the epitome of the human voices. But mostly, go for the glorious music. The arts are crucial to the life of every community.  ~  Karen DeCrow

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[We’re going to hold them to their desire . . . ]

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[To come back to TLHD again some day . . . ]

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[We enjoyed after the show commingling, masked of course . . . ]

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[The Super was particularly excited to discover . . . ]

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[That Siena and Mark are Indiana University alums . . . ]

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[We should have asked for a rendition of “Indiana, Our Indiana” . . . ]

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[Didn’t take any live videos.  Not kosher, certainly if not OK’ed.  In lieu thereof, a very recent YouTube post by one of our favorites (we have CD’s to prove it) . . . ]

[Here we all are – a panoramic shot with the new camera.  Until next time . . . ]

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Opera in English, is about as sensible as baseball in Italian.  ~  H.L. Mencken

Up Next:  Surprise me . . .

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