Photo: By Scott Evers|For Hearst Newspapers
EDWARDSVILLE — As the famous saying goes, “The show must go on!,” and Opera Edwardsville adopted the saying as its mantra for its upcoming season.
Opera Edwardsville’s third season is set with a continued commitment to serve the community through cultural enrichment and arts education with a revised 2020 season that will feature two of Opera Edwardsville’s most beloved signature events. And indeed, the show will go on — online and on film!
In November, Opera Edwardsville (OE) will present its opera for kids, “The Three Little Pigs,” a film to premiere Friday, Nov. 6, at www.operaedwardsville.org. Also new and exciting for OE, the City Museum in St. Louis has joined OE to present “The Three Little Pigs: An Opera for Kids” as part of the museum’s programming.
“This is in addition to several organizations that will be partnering to share our film of ‘The Three Little Pigs,’ including The Wildey, Edwardsville Public Library, SIUE Arts and Issues and Edwardsville Children’s Museum,” said Opera Edwardsville founder and Artistic Director Chase Hopkins.
“I am grateful to have many wonderful partners presenting our ‘three little pigs’ as part of their virtual programming. The City Museum is surely one of St. Louis’ greatest treasures and a premiere location for interactive learning for kids, so an exciting partnership that I hope will continue in the future. Close to home, we are thrilled to be working with the Edwardsville Children’s Museum and more — all fabulous community organizations.”
Following last year’s success with “Pinocchio,” which reached more than 1,500 children, OE will film an operatic adaptation of “The Three Little Pigs.” The nonprofit arts organization also partnered with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s music education department to prepare fun activities and educational materials to accompany the film.
“I am grateful for the proactive and positive energy from Dr. Alicia Canterbury, professor of music education at SIUE and her student Michaela Davis who is working to prepare these materials,” Hopkins said.
“Going online means we have tried to imagine new uses of our educational programming,” he explained. “It’s going to be adorable and this is an element that I hope will continue on from year to year in order to further the enjoyment and engagement of our youngest audience members, while also providing field experience and opportunity for the music education majors at SIUE.
OE invites students, teachers, kids and families to join for this “virtual field trip” to the opera, free of charge.
November 2020: “The Three Little Pigs: An Opera for Kids” —On Film!
Online film premier Friday, Nov. 6, at www.operaedwardsville.org.
Wolfgang Bigbad (The Wolf) ……. Stephanie Mossinghoff
Don Giovanni (Pig-Stick House) …… Xavier Ojeda
Cherubino (Pig-Straw House) …….. Evan Babel
Despina (Pig-Brick House) …….. Sarah Collins
Piano, Joseph Welch
Stage Director Chase Hopkins
Music Director Marc Schapman
Film Director Chris Ryan
Scenic Design Roger Speidel
Costume Designer Laura Hanson
Production Assistant Becky Walker
“The Three Little Pigs: An Opera for Kids” will feature SIUE student performers. Created especially for the enjoyment of children, in this adaptation the magic of opera meets the music of Mozart.
“The Three Little Pigs: An Opera for Kids” is generously sponsored by the Edwardsville Rotary Club and presented in partnership with Once Films, The Wildey Theatre, the Edwardsville Public Library, Edwardsville Arts Center, SIUE Arts and Issues, the Edwardsville Children’s Museum and the St. Louis City Museum.
“It has been a joy to work with the talented students of SIUE, who will perform as the cast of ‘The Three Little Pigs,’” Hopkins said. “I am so grateful to be working with Dr. Marc Schapman, one of SIUE’s professors of voice, who has been instrumental in this project’s success.
“We have also had the joy of working with Roger Speidel to design adorable set pieces for this filmed opera, and Laura Hanson, who has designed and created costumes for the little piggies and big bad wolf. It’s a fabulous team, and I can’t wait to see the finished production!”
Audiences may recognize some of the sets, as Opera Edwardsville has designed this program with a special tie into the community, honoring its partnership with the Edwardsville Public Library.
“In 2019, when we hoped to present ‘Pinocchio,’ it was through the help and support of Jill Schardt and the Edwardsville Public Library that we were able to present a free public performance for the community,” Hopkins recalled.
“Following overwhelming registration for the event, The Wildey Theatre saved the day by offering to host the performance at the theater instead of the library, which, with so many attending, would have been a tight squeeze. This year, for our version of ‘The Three Little Pigs,’ it is the piggy who goes to the library and reads, who knows how best to build a strong house of bricks. Reading is fundamental.”
Of course, no public gathering is possible for a live performance yet.
“So we are thrilled to be filming this opera for kids, and presenting for free online,” Hopkins said. “I am especially grateful to be partnered with Once Films and Chris Ryan, who will help to transform Opera Edwardsville from the stage to the screen.”
To create this two-piece virtual season, Opera Edwardsville’s partnership with the video production company was crucial. Once Films’ noteworthy projects include for the Gateway Arch, The Muny, Forest Park and Jazz St. Louis, among others.
The performances will be hosted at the Opera Edwardsville website — www.operaedwardsville.org — and shared by the group of presenting partners.
In December, Opera Edwardsville will present its third annual “Christmas at the Wildey” as a very special holiday broadcast from The Wildey, with the broadcast’s film to premiere Friday, Dec. 18. Ticket information will be announced for the concert of holiday classics and festive carols performed by the world-class talent of Opera Edwardsville musicians.
“Christmas at the Wildey: A Special Holiday Broadcast” is presented in partnership with the historic Wildey Theatre and Once Films, broadcast from The Wildey stage, featuring Opera Edwardsville favorites performing alongside Grammy winner and OE Artistic Advisor Christine Brewer. The sounds of the season meet the spirit of the holiday in this concert, sponsored by Stifel and LewisRice, who have joined as official 2020 sponsors.
“Both have been with us since the beginning, and I’m so appreciative for their continued support,” Hopkins said. “I am exceptionally grateful for everyone’s continued support, and hope you all will enjoy these performances as part of your home schooling or holiday gathering. We recognize that arts programs in schools are almost non-existent as schools try to face safety and budgetary concerns. It scares me to imagine the loss of arts programs in schools, which has made me work even harder to ensure we find a creative way to present these performances online.
Sponsoring OE’s educational activities, the Edwardsville Rotary Club made a bold three-year commitment.
“I am exceptionally grateful to the club,” Hopkins said.
“It is through the support and vision of these community leaders that a start-up arts organization can actualize its hopeful impact for the community. To my knowledge, this is one of the first multi-year event/activity-based grants the Edwardsville Rotary Club has offered, and I am exceedingly grateful to be able to support arts education at both the elementary and university level through this funding. We are lucky to have the Edwardsville Rotary’s commitment to the community and support for the arts.”
In light of the global pandemic, Opera Edwardsville made the decision to cancel the originally planned September and December concerts due to theater capacity restrictions, limitations for international travel (affecting several performers), and for the health and safety of all artists and audiences, but that didn’t mean foregoing its original signature event “Christmas at The Wildey.”
“I don’t know about you, but I’m sad to imagine a covid Christmas, especially the potential loss of Christmas carols and the music!” Hopkins noted. “When thinking about what could be done, I was inspired by the nostalgia of ‘Christmas past’ and the idea of a Christmas broadcast — I’m picturing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, or Christmas at the Lincoln Center.
”It’s going to be a BYOC event — bring your own champagne — and I hope everyone will be ready to pop a bottle for our signature encore of the Champagne Trio.”
While challenges are many, Hopkins also recognized a silver lining to this pandemic period.
“Wonderful partnerships have come out of the necessity to innovate,” he said. “I’m excited about these new partnerships with many possibilities for continued collaboration moving forward.
“The canceled programs are a huge disappointment considering the immense talent that was scheduled to join us on the stage of the historic Wildey Theatre, but we are excited to put forth our virtual season and digital performances. This is a challenging time for all, and the arts are experiencing an existential threat to programs in schools, and dark theaters for the foreseeable future.
“So I am grateful that Opera Edwardsville has been able to form meaningful relationships with many of the existing community organizations,” Hopkins said. “I consider it a great honor to be working with these community partners. Now, more than ever, is the time for organizations to find new and innovative ways to support one another. We hope audiences and previous sponsors will consider making a donation to support Opera Edwardsville’s continued impact on the community through these digital plans.”
Donations directly support OE’s bold and innovative plans created in response to the global pandemic, and its ability to continue serving the community through education programming and (new) virtual concerts. Visit www.operaedwardsville.org/donate to donate to Opera Edwardsville.
Visit www.operaedwardsville.org for more information.