ARTS & CULTURE
Text and photos courtesy of Opera in the Ozarks
Opera in the Ozarks Kicks Off 2023 Summer Season
Opera in the Ozarks, the summer music festival and opera training program based in Eureka Springs, kicks off its 2023 summer season this month with dozens of exciting opera productions and special musical events across the region.
The season, “Farm Fresh Opera,” begins on June 23 and continues through July 21 at Opera in the Ozarks’ mountainside venue Inspiration Point, located on U.S. Hwy. 62, five miles west of Eureka Springs.
The new season will feature a talented cast of singers along with professional musicians from across the country. “We have assembled a company of dozens of wonderful singers who will convene on our mountain this summer, and the always wonderful orchestra will be at full strength, ready to thrill you with their beautiful music making,” said Nancy Preis, Opera in the Ozarks general director. “Together they will perform 22 fully staged and costumed opera productions, including three Sunday matinees.”
Now in its 72nd season, this year’s repertoire includes three exceptional operas: Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore (Elixir of Love), Copland’s The Tender Land and Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, plus additional special events at locations throughout Northwest Arkansas. Each of the featured operas this season explores the human experience through the lens of rural life.
Originally, Donizetti’s heartwarming comedy Elixir of Love was set in a quaint Italian village, but it could work just about anywhere and in any time when one could believe in the power of a substance that might incite romance. Our setting is Eureka Springs, about 1904, where the poor farm boy Nemorino is besotted with wealthy landowner Adina, who ignores him. The travelling quack Dr. Dulcamara arrives with the solution: a love potion that works wonders!
In Copland’s only full-length opera, The Tender Land tells a coming-of-age tale of a young woman on a Midwestern farm in the 1930s. She finds herself caught between the smothering expectations of her family and her dreams of life and love beyond the borders of her rural town.
And in Offenbach’s comic operetta Orpheus in the Underworld, the mythical story of Orpheus is told through irreverent parody and scathing satire. Farcical twists abound. In Offenbach’s version, Orpheus and Eurydice, though married to each other, are amicably living separate lives, each blissfully occupied with a new lover. So, when Eurydice dies of a snake bite, she willingly relocates to the Underworld to be with Pluto — the ruler of the Underworld — who in a mortal form had become her lover while she was alive. Goaded by Public Opinion, Orpheus attempts to retrieve her from the Underworld, though it is very much against his will.
“Our singers, orchestra and staff come from all over the world to bring these operas to our unique corner of the Ozarks,” Preis said. “Every year they fall in love, both onstage and offstage, with the Northwest Arkansas area. You will fall in love too, with the beautiful music and the magic of these operas.”
The three mainstage productions will be staged on a rotating basis throughout the season, with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m.
Elixir of Love —
June 23, 28, July 1, 5, 9, 12, 15, 21
The Tender Land —
June 24, 29, July 3, 7, 11, 16, 20
Orpheus in the Underworld —
June 27, 30, July 2, 6, 8, 14, 19
Beyond the 22 mainstage performances in Eureka Springs, there will also be more than a dozen performances of a Children’s Outreach Production at venues throughout the region.
In addition, audiences will enjoy the always exciting Chamber Music Concert on July 17 at Inspiration Point, and not one, but two Broadway Cabarets. One cabaret will be in Fayetteville on July 13 at Mount Sequoyah (7 p.m.) and will include heavy hors d’oeuvres, and the other will be in Eureka Springs on July 18 at the Crescent Hotel (6 p.m.) and will include dinner (both cabaret venues will have cash bars). These cabaret performances will feature a variety of popular songs from Broadway shows, performed by members of the Opera in the Ozarks company.
Tickets for the 2023 season are on sale now and are moving quickly. Single tickets to mainstage opera performances range in price from $25 to $30 depending on seat selection, with special pricing available for children and students under 18. Tickets for the Fayetteville cabaret performance are $50; tickets are $70 for the dinner-inclusive Eureka Springs cabaret. Tickets for the Chamber Music Concert are $20, with special pricing available for children and students under 18.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.opera.org, or by calling the box office at (479) 253-8595.