The Kenosha Opera Festival, which launched in the fall of 2019 and saw its first events shift to a “virtual” format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has two public events slated.
Up first is a recital Saturday night at First United Methodist Church, 919 60th St.
The concert features two Chicago-based singers, Dorian McCall and Katherine Dalin, along with opera company members.
McCall and Dalin are also principal performers in “La Fille du Regiment.” The comic French opera by Gaetano Donizetti will be performed Aug. 6 and 7 at the Rhode Center for the Arts.
Nicholas Huff and Kaila Bingen teamed up to create the Kenosha Opera Festival as a way to bring opera out from behind its “stuffy” image.
“The recital features a fantastic set list,” Bingen said. “And the church is a wonderful setting for the concert.”
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As for the upcoming opera, Huff said it features “a very fun, very charming story. We wanted to stage a good choice for someone’s first opera, and this is it.”
“La Fille du Regiment” is about a regiment that finds a young orphaned girl and adopts her. Years later, she falls in love and wants to marry but must get permission from her “fathers.”
While the songs will be performed in French, “super titles” will translate the lyrics on a screen above the stage. Also, the dialogue between songs is spoken in English.
“We’ve removed one barrier, the language, through the super titles,” Huff said. “And we picked an opera that is so fun and accessible.”
Opera fans, he added, will “be impressed with the singing. There are some opportunities to be really thrilled by the performers, with nine high C’s in the show’s arias.”
Besides the guest artists, the opera features two more main roles, supporting players, a chorus and an orchestra.
“It’s all fallen into place for us,” Bingen said of developing a local opera organization. “We’ve really worked on a building a network here.”
The Kenosha Opera Festival features six young members in the troupe’s fellowship program.
“We’re proud that our program is completely free for these college-age students to attend,” Huff said.
The fellowship program includes workshops on singing, of course, but also offers practical guidance on such topics as how to file your taxes if you’re a freelance performer and how to use social media.
After having to rehearse and meet over Zoom calls, Huff and Bingen said just being together in a space with fellow performers is thrilling.
“We were very emotional during our first rehearsal together,” she said. “We just couldn’t stop saying how magical it felt to be among other people again.”
As opening night for the opera approaches, Bingen still marvels at how everything is coming together.
“All of this wouldn’t be possible without support from the community. We’re really grateful.”