SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 4, 2012

Opera you would love to hear ... really

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — SALEM — If you never tasted it before, you might not know you like lobster.

The same thing goes for opera. Which is why, in its 32nd season, Symphony by the Sea is offering a taste test that just might bring you back to the table for more.

It’s a program called “An Opera Lover’s Delight,” explains spokeswoman Sandy Sheckman, but it’s designed as well to introduce the joys of opera to beginners, including people who think they just don’t like opera.

This is an opportunity, says Sheckman, “to give it chance.”

On Thursday, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Marblehead’s Abbot Hall three young professionals — soprano Sara Heaton, tenor Michael Kuhn and baritone Ross Benoliel — will sing arias, duets, trios and overtures from operas written by a variety of composers, from Mozart to Johann Strauss Jr. A reception at 6:30 precedes the concert.

A second performance is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 14, at 3 p.m. at Governor’s Academy in Byfield.

If you’re put off because you can’t understand the lyrics, usually in a foreign language, expect musical director Donald Palma to help. “The conductor,” says Sheckman, “will let the audience know what they’re listening to.”

The plots in opera, far from the stiff and stuffy tales that people imagine, are full of earthy and even salacious situations. “Some of the stories are outrageous,” Sheckman explains. “Some are very funny, and complex. They’re not exactly mainstream.”

Learning to appreciate the music, she believes, is a step toward accessing these exciting entertainments.

It’s the first time in recent years that Symphony by the Sea has presented opera. “The concert is a way of reaching out to people,” Sheckman says. She expects audience favorites, including selections from the “The Barber of Seville” and “The Marriage of Figaro,” will grab hold of them.

“Once you get the gist of a song or aria, then you sit back and let the music speak for itself,” she says. Those who take the time to listen and appreciate soon learn, she says, “that the music becomes a part of who you are.”

AN OPERA LOVER’S DELIGHT

* Thursday, Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m.

Abbot Hall, Marblehead

Pre-concert reception, 6:30 p.m.

* Sunday, Oct. 14, 3 p.m.

Governor’s Academy, Byfield

Tickets: $35 adults, $5 students (K-12). Available online or at the door. Subscriptions also available for the season, at $90 for 3 concerts, $60 for 2.

Information: www.symphonybythesea.org