Blacktip Island Welcomes Hurricane Season With Opera Singalong

opera singalong

Blacktip Island’s Heritage House will be transformed into ancient Egypt’s Old Kingdom Saturday for the Blacktip Island Community Player’s interactive Aida opera singalong. (illustration courtesy of Doris Blenny)

The Blacktip Island Community Players will mark the start of hurricane season Saturday with an audience-participation performance of the classic opera Aida at the small Caribbean island’s Heritage House, organizers said.

“Everyone gets a bit on edge at the start of hurricane season, so we thought we’d do something to lift folks’ spirits,” BICP choral director Doris Blenny said. “Instead of worrying about storms, we hope to create one, figuratively, by letting everyone get together and blow off some steam.

“We’ll have a cast on stage singing the parts, but everyone in the audience will be encouraged to join in with whatever part they choose, in whatever their vocal range. Or lack thereof,” Blenny said. “We encourage people singing the same parts to sit together, but it’s not necessary. And ear protection is fine, if anyone feels the need.”

Participants hope the event will enhance a sense of community.

“The idea’s to be totally inclusive, to not be ableist about anyone’s singing voice,” BICP member Payne Hanover said. “It’ll be an organic experience, with the audience creating the work as we go along. We’re doing it outside to accommodate as many people as possible. Also so people can run away if they feel the need.

“A vocal contingent of Players wanted to do Pirates of Penzance, but we shot that down,” Hanover said. “We did The Mikado a while back and don’t want to get stuck in a Gilbert and Sullivan rut. Plus, everybody loves Aida. For the audience, Egyptian-inspired garb is encouraged, but not required. Preferably something that screams ‘Old Kingdom.’”

The on-stage cast includes:

  • Gage Hoase as Aida
  • Marina DeLow as The King of Egypt
  • Payne Hanover as Amneris
  • Jessie Catahoula as Ramadès
  • Lee Helm as Amonasro
  • Dermott Bottoms as the Voice of the High Priestess

Not all residents are happy with the production.

“The last thing I want to hear Saturday evening is a bunch of people caterwauling off key,” Clete Horn said. “And the ones with the worst voices’re the ones who sing the loudest. I wanna hear that crap, I’ll go to karaoke on Friday. At least with that I have a choice of whether to go and listen. This nonsense’ll be right next door.”

Organizers were quick to respond to criticism.

“This event will not only bring us all together, it will also raise cultural awareness,” Blenny said. “And we’ll be donating all the proceeds to charity. We’re just not sure which one, yet.”

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