The Acoustic Cafe in downtown Eau Claire often showcases a variety of musical talents. Audience members may not have expected their most recent Friday performance, as the cafe was filled with the sound of classical opera ballads.
Eauxpera was an event hosted by the UW -Eau Claire Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, at the Acoustic Cafe.
The event combined elements of both music and stage work for audience members of the Eau Claire community.
Kenneth Pereira, the stage director for the UW-Eau Claire Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop, said the goal for the ensemble is to showcase how both musical and theatrical components can combine through a performance.
“This is about learning the skills a singing actor needs for a performance,” Pereira said. “Because it is very similar to normal acting, but it is different because you have to be singing everything.”
Kathryn Flynn, a fourth-year music and vocal performance student, said the ensemble often shows the first performance the night before in Gantner Hall in the Haas Fine Arts Center, which is a more familiar environment for vocalists.
“That is what makes the Acoustic Cafe so much fun,” Flynn said. “I think it is nice for us to use a casual venue, but it gives us performers a lot more to play with.”
Pereira said he believes it is important to challenge the ensemble through a venue like the Acoustic Cafe, as the venue showcases an experience a professional singer might have in their career.
“Often times, when you are working on professional singing you have to do events where you are not on a stage,” Pereira said. “Where the audience is right there, or the blender is going off in the background. You have to maintain your concentration and keep delivering your performance.”
According to the Eauxpera event, all the texts performed this year were selected from a collection of the English language. This is a transition from the Italian pieces performed in previous years.
Flynn said this year she performed musical scenes from “Hello Dolly” as Irene Molloy and Meg from “Little Women.” While these scenes contrasted with one another, Flynn said they challenged her to showcase new abilities as an actor.
“I was really excited for the “Little Women” quartet, because (Meg) is a role I am really starting to obsess over,” Flynn said. “You get one scene to describe the entirety of the show and hope your audience gets something from it.”
Through the Eauxpera event this year, the UW-Eau Claire Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop combined 28 individuals from a variety of academic majors across the university.
Flynn said this ensemble is different than a solo performance a vocalist might have. She values how an actor can learn a lot about themselves from the abilities of fellow performers.
“In a group scenario, you learn how to work with different personalities, different work ethics and levels of experience,” Flynn said. “When you work with other people of such high talent, it shows more to an audience of how strong our program is.”
Pereira said he loves to watch the creativity of each performer come forward, as they explore the different layers a text can bring out.
“People have happened to be at the Acoustic Cafe or walk in while we are performing and they can realize that opera is not that scary,” Pereira said. “Hopefully, us doing things like this help demystify opera and let people know that this is just good storytelling.”
For more information on future UW-Eau Claire Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop events, contact [email protected]
Nelson can be reached at [email protected]