IF YOU GO
* What: Artisti Affamati's "Opera in the Dark.
* When: 7-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 15-16.
* Where: Four Squares Business Center, 1200 Mountain Creek Road, Suite 200.
* Admission: $15 general admission, $10 students and senior adults, $5 children.
* Website: www.artistiaffamati.com.
THE REPERTOIRE AND PLAYERS
Opera in the Dark's four one-act operas and casts are:
* Singers: Rachael Henderson and Bruce Shaw
* Director: Catherine Bolden
* Pianist: Jenny Parker
* Singers: Christine Hassevoort, Jason Canter, Jennifer Arbogast and Spencer Miller
* Director: Rodney Van Valkenburg
* Pianist: Terry Sanford
"A Hand of Bridge"
* Singers: Lucia Elena Sanchez, April Lane, Darrin Hassevoort and Ted Long
* Directors: Philip Luckey and Trish Ferrell Wileman
* Pianist: Tim Hinck
"Trouble in Tahiti"
* Singers: Sara Snider Schone, David Tahere, Vanessa Kimbrough, David Ingle and Bob Roza
* Director: Allan Ledford
* Pianist: Jason DuRoy
It began as an open-mike night for opera singers at a local hotel bar. In the year and a half since, there has been such interest from the growing number of singers wanting to show off their pipes, says founder Sara Snider Schone, that a local opera performance troupe formed.
Artisti Affamati -- fancy for "starving artists" -- is a new ensemble of 20- and 30-something local singers with a mission to bring opera to the people and encourage a new generation of patrons.
"It came about because we have all these opera singers in town with no place to sing at the moment," says Schone. "We did an opera in April to see if we'd have people come to it, if there was enough interest for an audience. We found Chattanooga wants opera."
So they're bringing it.
This weekend, Artisti Affamati will present "Opera in the Dark," a family-friendly program of four American, one-act operas presented in concert, each with its own independent cast, director and accompanist. Performances are Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15-16, at 7 p.m. in the Four Squares Business Center on Mountain Creek Road.
"This is a group of young, hip opera people who put on Divas & Drinks open-mike night for opera singers and used a Kickstarter campaign to raise their funding," says Allan Ledford, one of the show's guest directors.
The core group of Artisti Affamati is the quartet of Schone, Beth DuRoy, Keith Rollins and Ted Long. They are supplemented as needed by volunteer singers drawn from the CSO Chorus, Bach Choir, Choral Arts, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, Signal Mountain Playhouse and Ensemble Theatre.
As the group notes on its website, the expense of presenting a full opera -- costumes, scores, orchestra, sets, a theater -- has all but ended operatic productions locally. But even when stripped of those trappings, as presented by Artisti Affamati, operatic music doesn't lose its beauty and passion. So Schone says the ensemble brings opera to the people with productions in out-of-the-norm venues; places where ticketholders can arrive dressed casually and comfortably and even bring their kids.
"We tend to do opera in odd places, so accessibility is key. We thought a few short operas might be easier to do this time so we could rehearse separately and include more singers," she says.
"We talk with our audience, tell them what the opera is about. We try to keep our prices down to encourage people to bring their kids. I really like to make opera fun for kids."
Artisti Affamati says its performances are for "the ones who don't think they like opera, the ones who have never dared try opera, the ones who don't like to sit inside for four hours. From the kids who don't know what it is yet, to the traditional opera lover curious to see what we're doing, we hope our work will have a little something for everyone."
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...