By George Basler
After a 15-month hiatus because of COVID-19, Tri Cities Opera will resume live productions next week with a staging of Gaetano Donizetti’s popular The Elixir of Love. But the venue will be out of the norm for the Binghamton-based opera company.
Instead of performing at The Forum downtown or the opera center on Clinton Street, the cast will sing outdoors under a tent at the Goodwill Theatre in Johnson City. The performances, at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday (May 26 and 27), are part of a series of outdoor events that Goodwill is hosting this spring and summer.
“It’s exciting for us. Live musical story-telling is an important part of our mission, but it has been hard to do that (for the past 15 months),” John Rozzoni, the opera company’s executive director, said.
The event, being billed as “Opera and Beer,” is a cross between opera and the company’s annual beer-centric fund-raiser, he said. Audience members will be able to partake of beer, wine, other beverages, and food from Food & Fire in Johnson City.
The production, directed by Frances Rabalais, is a modified version of Donizetti’s classic comedy because of COVID-19 restrictions. There will be no chorus or secondary leads, and the four cast members will perform with microphones to compensate for the acoustics under the tent, Rozzoni said. TCO commissioned the new English adaptation by librettist Audrey Chait.
The performers are Binghamton native Jenni Bank, who has performed internationally and recently was named artistic advisor to TCO; Robert Flora, from Binghamton University’s music program; Tshombe Selby, who has sung with the Metropolitan Opera, and current TCO resident artist Erin Alcorn.
Some COVID-19 protocols will be in effect for the performances, Rozzoni said. Audience members must wear masks and socially distance. Seats are being sold in two-person and four-person pods. Seats under the tent are $40; open-air seats are $20.
TCO’s “spring season” also features two streamed productions. Handel’s Acis & Galatea, co-produced with Annapolis Opera, runs through May 23. A filmed production of Puccini’s La Boheme begins streaming May 27. Set in current day New York, the Puccini production focuses on Asians, Asian-Americans and people of color, according to TCO publicity.
TCO plans to return to live productions in the upcoming season, with performances Sept. 16 and April 10, 2022, at The Forum, Rozzoni said. The company will announce details later.
The past year “has been a long haul, but we’re learned a ton,” Rozzoni said. The company will continue to offer some events digitally even after it resumes live productions, he added. These include a vocal competition, first offered last year, and a children’s opera that is offered to schools throughout the region.
For more information and to order tickets for next week’s live performance and the streaming performances, visit www.tricitiesopera.com.