Standing on its long, storied history, FYI: Opera returns

A 1904 opera poster advertising "Madama Butterfly" created by Adolf Hohenstein

On Oct. 10, FYI: Opera, a premier program sponsored by the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council since 1990, returns after a COVID driven absence of more than two years. Oberlin Opera Theater presents the October program at Westlake Porter Public Library at 7:30 p.m. These programs are offered free to the public by the WWAC.

Jonathan Field, Director of Oberlin Opera Theater, will introduce the music performed by three Oberlin voice students: Clara Dahmer, soprano; Chris Leimgruber, tenor; Alan Rendzak, baritone. Oberlin Music Director Kyung-Eun Na will accompany the singers on the piano. These gifted students will perform arias and a trio from "L’Occasione fa il Ladro," one of Rossini’s early one-act farces, which will also be part of Oberlin’s November opera presentation.

The nearly three decade history of WWAC’s FYI: Opera program reflects an interesting period of opera history in the Cleveland area. In 1990, two WWAC members, Jane Mueller and Jean Povinelli initiated FYI: Opera.

One of the contacts they made was with David Bamberger, who along with his wife Carola and John D. Heavenrich, incorporated Cleveland Opera in March 1976. This company was credited with being a major factor in the revitalization of Cleveland’s historic theater district, as Cleveland Opera became the resident opera company at the State Theater by 1984.

When Bamberger was approached by the WWAC members regarding FYI: Opera, he readily supported the program and presented entertaining and enlightening programs about opera, its composers, performers and more. 

Bamberger stepped down as Cleveland Opera manager in 2004 and subsequently directed the opera department of the Cleveland Institute of Music. He then presented FYI: Opera programs that included talented young CIM singers, who performed arias from operas, whose stories were entertainingly explained by Bamberger.

In addition to the Cleveland Opera and Cleveland Institute of Music, FYI: Opera has had the cooperation and talents of Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Baldwin Wallace University, area music writers and teachers. And prior to the COVID suspension of programs, FYI: Opera earned a loyal and appreciative audience.

WWAC encourages young and old alike to enjoy a captivating trip through the countless facets of opera beautifully, humorously, and lovingly revealed by those who devote their energy to keeping it alive.  Attend FYI: Opera on Monday, Oct. 10, at Westlake Porter Public Library.

Louise Seeholzer

Publicist for Westlake-Westshore Arts Council

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Volume 14, Issue 18, Posted 9:32 AM, 09.20.2022