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Reviewing the Tacoma Opera, and a look at next season

The Tacoma Opera finished its 2013-14 season last weekend with great triumph. After a fantastic three shows this year—Pirates of Penzance, Barber of Seville and Madama Butterfly—the company is thrilled for next season, featuring The Magic Flute, The Mikado and Romeo et Juliette.

This year Tacoma witnessed the amazing talents of the Tacoma Opera Company in three magnificent productions. Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan, the opera buffa (or comic opera), featured Eric Neuville as Frederic, Director of Vocal Studies at Puget Sound Dawn Padula as Ruth, Ryan Bede as the Pirate King, Megan Chenovick as Mabel and Nancy Blaisdell as Queen Victoria, her final role after 20 years at Tacoma Opera.

Baritone Barry Johnson, who played Major General Stanley, said working on Pirates with Padula was great fun.

“We had such an incredibly fun time during rehearsals that our sides would hurt from laughing! How wonderful to get paid for doing something you truly love!”

Rossini’s Barber of Seville, another opera buffa and the prequel to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, featured Jose Rubio as Figaro, Matthew Richardson as Count Almaviva, Jordan LaRae McClellan as Rosina, Lee Strawn as Dr. Bartolo and Benjamin Harris as Don Basilio.

The season concluded with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, featuring Naomi Ruiz as CioCio-San (Butterfly), Jon Farmer as B. F. Pinkerton, Sarah Larsen as Suzuki, Karl Reyes as Goro and Johnson as Sharpless.

Johnson has sung over 25 roles with the Tacoma Opera since the early 90s. He considers it his “home company,” after singing with Seattle Opera, Opera Colorado, Portland Opera, Las Vegas Opera and many more.

“I have sung many roles with Seattle Opera and absolutely love the company, but Tacoma has a homemade feel to it that I like,” Johnson said.

He greatly encouraged students to go see the operas because there is so much involved even with a single production.

“Students should go to Tacoma Opera because of the visceral reaction you get sitting in the audience and experiencing the raw power of the unamplified wall of sound. Opera singers train to cut an orchestra and when we cut it loose, it is awesome!” Johnson said.

“The live experience is always the best as you know from going to a rock concert or visiting a great museum. Seeing tremendous works of art in person is completely different than on a computer screen.”

“Whether you are a singer or musician, you most likely perform with a band, chorus, orchestra… On a stage, in a theater, bar or coffee shop,” Patron Services and Marketing Manager Claire Yuckert said. “Experiencing opera first hand is an important part of music history and culture.”

Next season will feature another round of fantastic productions—Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette. Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas have a huge fan base in the Pacific Northwest, and this will be the debut of The Mikado on the Tacoma Opera stage.

Student Rush tickets are a great way for students to afford these awesome experiences. Show up to the box office with your student ID up to two hours early and get in for 10 bucks, or you can watch the dress rehearsal the night before opening for five.

For those potentially interested in performing next season, auditions are held May 2-4. You must perform five arias from various operas and languages to show your understanding of the language and content. See under “Auditions” for more details.