WILLIAMSBURG — Opera… It is an artform so engrained in our culture that almost everyone has at least a vague idea of what is.
Despite its presence in the universal psyche, a vast number of people have never experienced it first hand. That is something that the people at Opera In Williamsburg are trying to fix, one production at a time.
It may come as a surprise to some to find out that Williamsburg has been home to this world class opera company since 2012.
Since then, its founder Naama Zahavi-Ely, music director Maestro Jorge Parodi, and their dedicated group of opera professionals have managed to put on two productions almost every year.
Putting on an opera is no small feat. The company spends considerable time finding performers and musicians, securing a venue, constructing sets, and making costumes. All of the time, effort and money that is put into one opera is mind boggling and a majority of it happens months before anyone sets foot inside of a theater.
“The way I think of Opera in Williamsburg is as a way for people to see opera performed at a very high level,” Naama said of the company. “We don’t want to do mediocre work. What is the point of doing all that work if you don’t want it to be excellent.”
Currently, Opera in Williamsburg is preparing to stage a production of “Così fan tutte,” which is a two-act comedy written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and sung in Italian.
This year, as in years past, the company is bringing in some of most talented opera singers from all over the world. Getting that talent year after year can be difficult, given the transient lifestyle for performers within the opera community.
“Singers, conductors and directors tend to move from production to production all over the world,” Naama says of the opera community. “Because, as long as they can sing the given language, you can perform anywhere.”
Naama credits the Williamsburg community for the continued success of Opera in Williamsburg. Locals contribute money and they volunteer their time as well as their expertise to the company’s productions. Some of them even offer their homes to performers and musicians to stay in order help save money on hotels.
“The fact that we can do this at all is because of people in Williamsburg like what we do and are willing to support us in doing this,” she said. “That support is donations and hospitality. People take singers into their homes. They trust us to bring people they like into their homes for three weeks.”
For those who cannot wait until May to see live opera, the company will also host a concert of songs from “Schumann’s Dichterliebe (Poets Love)” performed by baritone Suchan Kim and soprano Kinneret Ely. That event will take place at the Williamsburg Regional Library.
For tickets and more information on Opera of Williamsburg, go their website.