Opera Grand Rapids has been enriching the West Michigan community since the late 1960’s through the support of local Grand Rapidians and the larger community of opera lovers throughout Michigan. This opera company is a testament to the diverse, eclectic, and cultured community of Grand Rapids that craves a variety of art and entertainment. Opera is one of them. It is a timeless art form with an incredibly unique experience of raw talent, craftsmanship, and creativity.
“Opera is a unique, powerful experience that moves people. Opera is also an occasion–a night out filled with music, vocal athleticism, drama, and a story with an emotional appeal that brings people back time after time.” – Opera Grand Rapids
This season, their theme “A Season for Love” encompasses some of the best classic love stories throughout history. “A Season for Love” incorporates productions of both classic and contemporary operas to entertain a broad audience of opera enthusiasts. This season’s productions include “Orpheus and Eurydice”, “Romeo and Juliet”, and “The Student Prince”.
“Our season aims to generate fresh excitement in our audience and the audiences we’ve yet to discover. Think of it as a carefully curated operatic journey that is continually enriched by your next opera experience,” said Opera Grand Rapids Executive Director Anne Berquist.
Whether you’re a novice or an expert, Opera Grand Rapids invites you to experience the unique appeal of opera cultivated for Michigan! “A Season for Love” will run from April 8th until June 12th.
Here’s the top five reasons to attend Opera Grand Rapids’ “A Season for Love”:
1.) Opera Grand Rapids’ Legacy in Michigan
Opera Grand Rapids is one of only two opera companies in the state and the longest running professional company in Michigan. The sustainability of this company is really a testament to the Grand Rapids community. Since 1967, Opera Grand Rapids has brought in some of the world’s most talented artists, stage directors, conductors, choreographers, set designers, and costume designers. This opera company is nationally recognized for their legacy within Michigan and their continuously creative productions They have also done collaborations with the regional Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Grand Rapids Chorus, and Children’s Chorus.
2.) The Operatic Homecoming of a Michigander
Nationally renowned soprano Chelsea Morris Shephard will be making her operatic homecoming in Orpheus and Eurydice. Born and raised in Paw Paw, she attended Mattawan High School where she dabbled in many different forms of music and art. Her inspiration to become classically trained in opera came from her mother, who taught music at Western Michigan University, and recognized her daughter’s raw talent. Shephard went on to earn a Master of Music from Rice University.
After years of performing all over the country, she is now coming home to Michigan to make her professional debut at Opera Grand Rapids. Chelsea is excited to finally make her debut in Michigan and believes that everyone should attend an opera because of its timeless appeal and incredible talent that’s unlike any other performance. She said, “The more you put into it [opera], the more you will get out of it.”
3.) Flavors of Opera
Celebrating the 400th anniversary since Shakespeare’s death, Opera Grand Rapids is bringing the romantic tale of the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet to DeVos Performance Hall. This classic tale of “Romeo and Juliet” will get a contemporary makeover and is the epitome of Opera Grand Rapids’ “A Season for Love”. As a fun collaboration for the entire season, Opera Grand Rapids is partnering with Love’s Ice Cream to create specialty flavors modeled after each opera. “Fortune’s Fool” is the flavor modeled after “Romeo and Juliet”. This flavor mimics the “sweet sorrow” of this classic tale with the contrast between vanilla and chocolate, salt and pepper. The other two flavors being released for “A Season for Love” include “The Darkest Depths of Hellth” for “Orpheus and Eurydice” and “Three Golden Apples” for “The Student Prince”. Discover these flavors at Love’s Ice Cream located at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market beginning on March 27th, April 17th, and May 29th!
4.) Contemporary Influence of Beer City
Beer City, USA is the best place for the performance of “The Student Prince“! This lighthearted operetta is the story of a prince who, destined to marry a princess, falls in love with a barmaid from his university campus. Since the Prohibition era, this story has been a hit among theatergoers as the love story takes place in a Heidelberg biergarten.
Opera Grand Rapids’ production of “The Student Prince” will feature modernized costume styles and staging with local scenery celebrating the craft beer culture in West Michigan. They have partnered with the Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University to develop costume design illustrations, select appropriate fabrics, and build modernized costumes for the incoming cast of this performance. Learn more about their journey on the KCAD blog.
5.) Accessible to All Ages
Opera Grand Rapids has made opera accessible to all ages with their incorporation of student programs such as Master Classes, OPERAtunity, Student Dress Rehearsals, and the Collegiate Vocal Competition.
- Master Classes: Held at Betty Van Andel Opera Center, these classes are open to the public and feature prominent and entertaining opera scholars, performers, and directors.
- OPERAtunity: This program allows middle school to high school aged students to get the unique educational OPERAtunity to meet world-famous opera singers, conductors, and directors for an insider’s guide to the magical world of opera.
- Student Dress Rehearsals: Opera Grand Rapids allows students from middle school to college to register and attend the final dress rehearsal of an opera.
- Collegiate Vocal Competition: This is an opportunity for the finest student vocalists trained at West Michigan area colleges and universities to compete in a professional competition and to be recognized for their excellence by a professional opera company.
Opera Grand Rapids offers an unforgettable experience, one that encourages enjoyment in viewing this one-of-a-kind art form while also reflecting and celebrating the local Grand Rapids community. If you’re still hesitant to attend the opera this season, you should visit Opera Grand Rapids’ Behind the Curtain: An Opera Preview event. Before each show this season, experience a multi-sensory exploration previewing one of these classic love stories. Grand Valley State University Professor Emeritus Gilbert R. Davis and Psychologist Glen Peterson will take you on a journey through the story, composition history, character development, political and cultural reception and much more! Step behind the curtain with Opera Grand Rapids for exclusive previews beginning on March 29th for “Orpheus and Eurydice”, April 19th for “Romeo and Juliet”, and May 31st for “The Student Prince”.
If you don’t think opera is for you it is probably because you haven’t experienced the right one yet! Perhaps attending “A Season for Love” with Opera Grand Rapids will change your mind.
Orpheus and Eurydice
Friday, April 8 – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 9 – 7:30 PM
Presented at DeVos Center for Arts and Worship
Romeo and Juliet
Friday, April 29 – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 30 – 7:30 PM
Presented at DeVos Performance Hall
The Student Prince
Thursday, June 9 – 7:30 PM
Friday, June 10 – 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 12 – 3:00 PM
Presented at St. Cecilia Music Center
Which Opera Grand Rapids show are you excited to see this season? Let us know in the comments below.