The Norman Transcript

October 11, 2013

Opera company hosts comical autumn performances

by Emily Summars
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — More treat than trick, Cimarron Opera’s “Opera in Autumn” series is sure to narrate more than just your average fairytale. Think the princess is locked in a tower destined to spin straw? Think again.

Cimarron Opera Executive Director Shari Ransley said this seasons’ performances of both operettas and the full-length version of “Tales From the Brothers Grimm” by Dr. Glenn Wingers of the Virginia Opera take on a more comical approach than the traditional stories.

“We like our Halloween operas not to be too scary,” Ransley said. “Cimarron presents opera in a very fun way. Last years’ kids loved it, they laughed a lot and were really engaged, plus it makes the parents laugh, too.”

“Opera in Autumn” promises free family fun with several performances of operettas Oct. 25 at the Norman Depot, 200 S. Jones Ave. “Dr. Know-It-All” starts at 6:30 p.m., “Rumplestiltskin” at 7:15 p.m. and “Cat and Mouse” at 8 p.m. The performances coincide with the first Downtown Norman Fall Fest.

The entire work will be performed Oct. 27 at the Norman Depot. Sunday’s event will include a craft project, trick-or-treating with performers, snacks and the performance. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at the door or online at cimarronopera.org.

Ransley said Cimarron is neither the stereotypical non-coherent production or “three hours in German” most think about when hearing the term “opera.” Rather, Cimarron Opera exists for aspiring artists.

“Opera should never be intimidating,” Ransley said. “It is great to see what a beautiful well trained voice can do.”

The company, which has been going strong for 37 years, brings audiences aspiring artists who are training or have been professionally trained in opera. Some performers include university students and a professionally trained singer who used to sing with Brooklyn opera.

“One of the things we like about Cimarron Opera is the diversity of our cast,” Ransley said. “If you can sing, you are welcome.”

Originally, Ransley said Cimarron Opera hosted a holiday extravaganza weekend but the company wanted to allow more opportunities for artists. The company decided to host events the last week of October, which is also National Opera Week.

In preparation for the performances, Ransley said singers rehearsed for a minimum of four weeks before the event.

“The vocalists do initial prep work on their own,” Ransley said. “The music director then takes them [all performers] and helps hone that performance so they blend like they need to get as cohesive as a performance.”

For these particular performances, Ransley said kids and attendees are allowed to sit on the floor and the company encourages everyone to wear costumes. Ransley promises no one will feel “out of place” while attending the companies’ performances.

“The performers will be wearing costumes and makeup but the stage will be set on the ground,” Ransley said. “Kids will be sitting right in front of the performers.”

Ransley said often the performers interact with the children, bringing a new side to opera performances. When asked how she would describe the event to her daughter, Ransley said, “…You’re going to come in and you get to wear a costume if you want. You get to make a trick-or-treat bag and you get to listen to some funny stories.

“Then after it’s over, you get to trick-or-treat and ask questions of the performers,” Ransley said. “One of the things I really like to tell kids about opera is opera really is the first time someone thought to put song and story together. It started about 500 years ago and now we do it everywhere — movies commercials, TV shows — but it all started with opera.”

For more information visit cimarronopera.org.