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Balcony Ballads New Orleans Opera Video Series Opera at Home

Un bel di vedremo

VIDEO CREDIT: DYLAN TRẦN

Singing “Un bel di vedremo,” soprano Betsy Uschkrat portrays Cio-cio san, a Japanese woman promised to an American naval officer during the height of late 19th Century American colonialism and cultural exploitations. She sings about the beautiful reunion with her beloved Lieutenant Pinkerton, who, unbeknownst to her, has a girlfriend in every port of call. Jesse Reeks is the collaborative pianist.

Dr. Betsy Uschkrat, soprano

Known for her impressive vocal range and artistic versatility, soprano Betsy Uschkrat continues to enthrall audiences across the United States, winning several operatic competitions in the process. Audiences have adored her performances of classical, musical theatre, and the great American Songbook repertoire, described by the New Orleans Times-Picayune as a “vocal powerhouse.” Since 2010, Dr. Uschkrat has taught at Loyola University in the Classical Voice Department and the Popular and Commercial Music degree program. Her students have gone on to perform professionally, become music educators, and work as music therapists across the country.

Jesse Reeks, pianist

Jesse Reeks is the son of two very successful musicians, and he has played the piano since he was old enough to speak! He is also an expert on the accordion and a master-level organist.  Jesse is comfortable in any realm of music, from secular to sacred and from classical to jazz. He has been the collaborative pianist for the Opéra Nouvelle series for the past year and a half, and he maintains an active performance schedule, even on the “virtual” level!


Part of the Balcony Ballads Series from the New Orleans Opera Education Department
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Balcony Ballads New Orleans Opera Video Series Opera at Home

In des Lebens Frühlingstagen

VIDEO CREDIT: DYLAN TRẦN

Tenor Tyler Smith is Florestan in Ludwig van Beethoven’s opera Fidelio. The second act opens with “Gott! welch’ Dunkel hier!” which translates in English to “God, what darkness here!” Florestan is in the deepest recesses of a prison for those who have supposedly committed political crimes.  Though he is innocent, he has lost all hope. The second section of the aria, and our featured selection is “In des Lebens Frühlingstagen…” which means “In the spring days of life…”  Here, Florestan recalls past days of love before his years in the prison.  In a moment of glorious foreshadowing, he also sees a rescuing angel “Ein Engel” who is like his wife, Leonore, and a beacon of light to lead him to Heaven.  Jesse Reeks is our collaborative pianist.

Dr. Tyler Smith, Tenor

Dramatic tenor Tyler Smith has appeared in numerous operatic and concert performances throughout the United States, Europe, and South America.  For his debut as Canio with New Orleans Opera, Mr. Smith stepped in with six hours notice for an ailing colleague.  Opera News deemed his performance a “heroic job…[a] powerful voice and was remarkably in touch with the drama.”  Notable title roles include, but are not limited to Don Jose in Carmen, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Max in Der Freischütz, Boris in Katya Kabanova, the title role in Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann, and Belfiore in Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming. Mr. Smith made his Houston Grand Opera Debut as Carlson in Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men, which was released on the Albany label.

Jesse Reeks, pianist

Jesse Reeks is the son of two very successful musicians, and he has played the piano since he was old enough to speak! He is also an expert on the accordion and a master-level organist.  Jesse is comfortable in any realm of music, from secular to sacred and from classical to jazz. He has been the collaborative pianist for the Opéra Nouvelle series for the past year and a half, and he maintains an active performance schedule, even on the “virtual” level!


Part of the Balcony Ballads Series from the New Orleans Opera Education Department