Categories
Balcony Ballads New Orleans Opera Video Series Opera at Home

Pa-pa-pa! ACT II Duet from Die Zauberflöte

VIDEO CREDIT: DYLAN TRẦN

It is Act II and the setting is a Temple of Wisdom in a faraway land, place and time. Throughout the course of the opera, Papageno, a bird-catcher, has been trying to find a wife. Though he fails in most of the trials that Sarastro, the High Priest of the Temple of Wisdom asks him to endure, the Three Spirits arrive just in the nick of time to keep Papageno from ending his life! Miraculously, he is forgiven his failures in the trials, and he is presented with Papagena, a beautiful bird girl who will be his wife.  In typical musical and thematic brilliance, W.A. Mozart features the two characters, within a chirping orchestral underpinning, in an ebullient and charming avian duet.  They sing of all of the wonderful little Papagenas and Papagenos they will produce in joy, laughter and love!

Rachel Looney, soprano

Rachel Looney has been praised by The Times Picayune for her smooth silvery tone and ringing top notes. In November, 2018, she made her operatic debut with the New Orleans Opera as La statue animée in Rameau’s Pygmalion. Rachel has also performed with New Orleans Opera’s “Opera on Tap,” the Victory Belles at the National WWII Museum, and Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre. She has logged over 20 performances as the title role in the New Orleans Opera touring production, Little Red Riding Hood. Rachel holds a Master of Music degree from Loyola University New Orleans where she studied with Luretta Bybee and performed the role of Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.

Frank Convit, baritone

Frank Convit, described as singing with the “poignant power of a seasoned soloist” (Richard Balthazar Blog), has been captivating audiences with his rich timbre and ringing high notes. In March of 2020, Frank made his Midwest debut with Heartland Opera Theatre as Marco in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. Earlier that year, Frank also made his New Orleans Opera debut as Loreé a wonded soldier in Tchaikovsky’s Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans). He regularly performs in the New Orleans Opera touring show Little Red Riding Hood as the Big Bad Wolf. In 2019, Frank performed as Pandolfe in the Loyola Opera Theater production of Massenet’s Cendrillon, and, In 2018, Frank performed as Pablo Picasso in Tom Cipullo’s Afterlife with the Loyola Opera Theater, for the National Opera Association Convention.

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
Categories
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
Categories
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