On Site Opera Productions coming to Caramoor for a night of operatic comedy and tragedy
When the opera comes to Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts on July 22, it won’t be the traditional kind. This opera will be accessible, intimate and even funny.
“It’s something that feels a bit more like a sitcom than anything else,” said Eric Einhorn, co-founding general and artistic director of On Site Opera, a New York City-based company that produces opera in non-traditional venues, such as libraries, museums and even zoos.
“It’s all about creating an environment of flexibility and transparency,” Einhorn said. “The performers in opera are so used to being routine, to the point of comfort and safety. With our productions, there’s more flexibility. People love that - both the audiences and the performers.”
“A Night at the Opera with Stephanie Blythe and Laquita Mitchell” is On Site’s one-night-only performance at Caramoor. The first half of the performance will reimagine “Lesson Plan,” a digital production the company created specifically for Zoom audiences during the pandemic. Blythe stars as an acclaimed opera diva who thinks she will be teaching a masterclass with trained singers. Instead, she finds herself on stage with a group of community college students who have next to no experience–or interest–in opera. Mitchell plays the school administrator who clashes with Blythe over just about everything.
The second half of the show skews a little more traditional; it will feature excerpts from the well-known opera “Carmen,” including arias and duets arranged for piano.
“With Carmen you’re going to hear some amazing music, most of it you probably know without realizing it,” Einhorn said. “When a tune you recognize comes up in an opera, there is always this collective smile in an auditorium. There will be six or seven of those moments in a row with this show, with some of the greatest performers around today.”
On Site’s Caramoor show has been years in the making. Their scheduled 2020 Caramoor performance was the group’s first pandemic cancellation. When live shows disappeared, On Site pivoted to creating “Lesson Plan” specifically for Zoom. That worked well enough when it needed to, but, Einhorn said, the show had legs. “The piece is great and short and compact. It seemed a shame not to have a version that could live outside of Zoom,” he said.
As pandemic restrictions eased, On Site renewed discussions with Caramoor about an in-person performance. “There was a desire to create a piece that could be done in [Caramoor’s] Venetian Theater,” he said. “For us, performing in theaters is something that we don’t do by design. If we were to be in the Venetian Theater, it needed to be a piece that told a story about being in a theater space.”
“Lesson Plan,” with its tale of a famous opera singer looking to share her talents with starry-eyed students, made perfect sense. “To have a chance to reimagine our newest work for the stage with a live audience is simply the perfect way to spend a summer evening and continue to celebrate our 10th birthday of making opera in incredible spaces,” Einhorn said.
At the July 22 show, Einhorn says attendees can look forward to an interactive experience. “Audience participation will be in full effect, including audience singing,” he said. “If you ever wanted to sing with international opera stars, this is the performance for you.”
A Night at the Opera with Stephanie Blythe & Laquita Mitchell will take place at Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts Friday, July 22 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $40 and up. Garden Listening tickets are $20 and free for members and children under 18. Click here for more info.