By Nancy R. Elliott
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Stories come to life through song when the Lyric Opera Theatre of Indiana comes to Anderson’s Paramount Theatre at 3 p.m. Sunday.
That day, LOTI presents The Singer’s Musical Theatre, a program of music from theatrical works, from opera to operetta to musical theatre. The selections range from Rossini to Cole Porter.
“The program is designed to introduce the audience to a wide range of musical styles,” said LOTI’s Scott Semester. “If you’ve never heard opera live, it’s a chance to dip your toe into that. It’s designed to be a sampler platter of various musical styles.”
This is LOTI’s fourth season. The non-profit organization’s goal is to bring classical music to audiences around Indiana, while also giving artists performance opportunities.
“The mission of the group is to show people opera, up close and personal — to really have a chance to experience it first hand,” said Semester. “It’s about the story, and when you can lose yourself in the story, that’s what it’s all about.”
The dedicated LOTI performers strive to make the experience enjoyable and accessible.
“A lot of people are a little intimidated by opera,” said Gayle Jones Burris, executive director of the Paramount. She observed that LOTI engages the audience in an inviting way. “They make it approachable…they make it a lot of fun.”
Part of that approach is the diverse mix of performances in The Singer’s Musical Theatre. Look for pieces from several operas, including English composer Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. The works of several Italian composers are also represented. LOTI members will perform selections from Gioachino Rossini’s "Barber of Seville," Giacomo Puccini’s "Turandot" and Guiseppe Verdi’s "Don Carlo." The work of Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehar is also in the lineup with a selection from his operetta, "The Merry Widow."
The Singer’s Musical Theatre mixes it up with a number of pieces from stage musicals, including Cole Porter’s "Anything Goes." Also on the program are selections from Broadway musical "Big River," the musical comedy "City of Angels," and "1776."
LOTI will also perform from Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern’s Showboat, which brought us the familiar tune, "Ol’ Man River."
Members of the troupe that will be performing on Feb. 9 include soprano Laura Duvall-Whitson, mezzo soprano Lydia Bootz Armstrong, alto Catherine Vaughn Mobley, baritone Scott Semester, tenor Stephen Roger Kitts II and bass Eric Wickens. The accompanist for the performance will be Charles Manning on piano.
“They’re all very, very talented,” said Burris. “They’re extreme professionals but they’re also very friendly and open.”
Kitts, Wickens and Armstrong are classically trained opera singers. Other members of the troupe performing Sunday come from musical theater backgrounds.
“I’m getting a chance to 'try on' opera,” said Semester. He pointed out that the program, in turn, gives the trained opera singers the opportunity to explore musical theater. “It’s a neat opportunity for us as performers,” he said.
Semester’s Anderson performance will be his first public solo aria. He will sing Largo al Factotum in Italian from Rossini’s "Barber of Seville."
“Opera is about storytelling, even if it’s in a different language,” said Semester. If listeners do not know the language, the performer noted it can still be enjoyed. “Just being fully present, experiencing the song and emotion.”
If you go: What: The Singer's Musical Theatre presented by Lyric Opera Theatre of Indiana Where: The Paramount Theatre, Hardacre Ballroom, 1124 Meridian St., Anderson, IN When: Sunday, Feb. 9, 3 p.m. Doors open 2:30 p.m. Cost: Tickets are available at the door for $5. More info: Call the Paramount at 765-642-1234 or visit www.andersonparamount.org. For more information about Lyric Opera Theatre of Indiana, visit www.lotin.org.