“Many people are quick to dismiss classical music, particularly opera, as archaic and irrelevant.” This is what Megan Thompson, executive director of the Great Lakes Light Opera (GLLO), admits when she’s asked about the general public’s outlook on traditional art forms. Make no bones about it, opera can be a hard sell. But that’s why GLLO works to improve this relationship. And Thompson is not yet discouraged.
“What I’ve noticed in my experience as a singer, teacher and director is that this dismissal is usually a result of lack of exposure and understanding. You can very quickly engage a teenager in opera simply by pointing out that many are filled with revenge, sex and murder. Once the barrier is removed and a basic understanding takes hold, it’s easier to appreciate the beauty of the delivery.”
Thompson is an unflinching supporter of sharing opera with people of all ages. But how can you explain why opera is important to younger generations? The answer, it seems, lies within the narrative. “I believe it’s important for everyone to be exposed to opera and its stories, particularly those within the music field. These stories are timeless.”
To aid in the easy access to understanding, Great Lakes Light Opera publishes a podcast aptly called the Opera Avengers (available at greatlakeslightopera.com). “Unlike with most art forms, we believe spoilers enhance the experience rather than diminish it,” Thompson deftly explains. “Going into an opera, particularly one in a foreign language, is intimidating for many, but when you arrive already knowing the story, you can focus on enjoying the sound and performance.”
Community members will certainly enjoy the performance at BAYarts, which is titled “Opera Under the Stars,” and will showcase some of the most popular and renowned pieces of the art form.
This free event takes place Sunday, Aug. 14, 7-9 p.m., on the BAYarts campus, 28795 Lake Road.