2015 W&M Tack Lecturer Talks Opera for ‘People Like Us’

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Music professor Katherine Preston will deliver the College of William & Mary's 2015 Tack Faculty Lecture. (Courtesy William & Mary)
Music professor Katherine Preston will deliver the College of William & Mary’s 2015 Tack Faculty Lecture. (Courtesy William & Mary)

A professor at the College of William & Mary wants to put opera back where it belongs — popular culture.

Katherine Preston, a professor of music at the college, is delivering the next entry in William & Mary’s 2015 Tack Faculty Lecture Series with a presentation entitled “An American Prima Donna and Apple Pie Opera.”

Preston’s lecture will focus on the 19th century history of the art form, which incorporates musical and theatrical elements.

Although the public image of modern opera is one of stereotypical sopranos bellowing to upper class audiences, Preston said opera in 19th-century America was actually a fairly common and popular form of entertainment.

“During that period opera wasn’t yet high art,” explained Katherine Preston, David N. & Margaret C. Bottoms Professor of Music at William & Mary. “Rather, it was entertainment, and the people who listened to it were people much like us.”

While famous operas like Mozart’s Don Giovanni or Rossini’s The Barber of Seville were performed in Italian or other European languages, American audiences wanted to hear the classic compositions performed in English — a demand Preston said American opera productions were more than willing to oblige.

Preston’s lecture focuses on one such American opera personality, 19th-century soprano and artistic director Emma Abbott, who transformed the European classics for American audiences.

The lecture is scheduled for April 22 at 7 p.m. in the Kimball Theatre in Merchants Square. Admission to the event is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to register online.

Preston is the David N. & Margaret C. Bottoms professor of music at William & Mary, and specializes in music in the 18th and 19th centuries. She is currently working on a book on the performance of English-language opera in the United States in the second half of the 19th century.

The Tack Faculty Lecture Series began in April 2012 through a monetary gift from Carl and Martha Tack, both of whom were members of William & Mary’s class of 1978.

The lectures are delivered at least once per semester and must focus on topics that would be of interest to general audiences. The Tacks’ gift established an endowment for the series and speakers and provides stipends for the faculty members selected to deliver the talks.

Previous entries in the series include English professor Adam Potkay’s “Pity and Gratitude,” history professor Scott Reynolds Nelson’s “The World that Panics Made,” and geology professor Chuck Bailey’s “Finding Faults in Old Virginia.”

 

Liz Moore and Associates Holds Fundraiser for Heritage Humane Society

Liz Moore (left) of Liz Moore and Associates held an open house fundraiser for Heritage Humane Society in Williamsburg. (Courtesy Liz Moore and Associates)
Liz Moore (left) of Liz Moore and Associates held an open house fundraiser for Heritage Humane Society in Williamsburg. (Courtesy Liz Moore and Associates)

A local real estate broker let her home go to the dogs to raise money for a local animal shelter.

Liz Moore and Associates, a Williamsburg real estate firm, held a “lucky dog” open house to raise money for Heritage Humane Society.

The open house was hosted in one of the firm’s nearly completed model homes in the Oaks at Fenton Mill community in upper York County. Attendees were welcome to bring their dogs and were treated to free pet portraits, treats and tours of the home.

The event also featured a raffle for a custom-built dog house from Wayne Harbin Builder, which raised $500 for the animal shelter.

Heritage Humane Society helps place stray and surrendered animals in the Williamsburg area into permanent homes. The shelter also educates the public on humane animal care and treatment, advocates for animal welfare, and provides affordable adoption, along with spaying  and neutering services to reduce pet overpopulation.