New Orleans was once know as the opera capital of North America. The first week of August, adjunct UNO Professor Kathleen Westfall hopes to reclaim a little bit of that legacy with the debut performance of her 9th Ward Opera Company.
Westfall started the group to give local opera students an opportunity to hone their craft during the summer months. “Since Katrina the budget has been cut pretty severely, so the students who are trying to become singers don’t really have any performance opportunities,” she says.
The company will stage two comic, one-act operas with piano accompaniment. Gilbert and Sullivan’s early collaboration Trial by Jury is a courtroom satire concerning a marital lawsuit. Arthur Sullivan’s pre-Gilbert Cox and Box is the story of two men—one who works during the day and one who works during the night—who unknowingly share the same apartment. Comedy ensues when they run into each other for the first time. “Each of the operas are half an hour long,” says Westfall. “I figure that when people think of opera they think, ‘long, boring, Italian, not gonna go.’ So I wanted to do ‘short, English, funny, maybe I’ll go.’”
“I want to do something every summer,” says Westfall. “I think that maybe in the future it could become a summer program, which is something that Louisiana doesn’t have. But right now I’m happy to keep it small and just get these students performing.”
The 9th Ward Opera Company will present two performances, at the Allways Lounge on August 3rd and at UNO on August 4th. For more info email 9thWardOpera@gmail.com.