Tag Archives: caribbean opera

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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Blacktip Island Thespians To Perform Ring Of The Nibelung Operas

Ring of the nibelung

Jessie Catahoula, left, as Sieglinde, and Hugh Calloway as Siegmund rehearse for the Blacktip Island Community Players’ spring production of Wagner’s ‘Der Ring Des Nibelungen’ Thursday afternoon. (photo courtesy of יוסי צבקר)


The Blacktip Island Community Players Thursday announced the group will perform all four opera’s in Richard Wagner’s ‘Der Ring Des Nibelungen’ cycle in the original German for their annual spring theater fundraising extravaganza.

“We were tired of doing the same old ‘Tora Tora Tora’ and ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ fare,” BICP creative director Doris Blenny said. “As a joke, someone suggested Wagner, and the idea really took off. We couldn’t agree on which opera to do—Das Rheingold is the most accessible, but it’s really just a prelude—so we went ahead and committed to the whole 15-hour epic. It’ll last all spring. If enough people come.

“We’re scouring the dump and the beaches for props and costumes,” Blenny said. “Helen Maples is working with anyone interested on boosting their vocal ranges, and Alison Diesel is giving everyone German lessons. This production will truly showcase the unique talent we have on Blacktip.”

Many in the community said the choice was fitting.

“Operas about heroes fighting gods, then at the end everybody dies and Valhalla gets destroyed?” Corrie Anders said. “Sounds like a standard Saturday night at the Ballyhoo, frankly. I mean, people already call it ‘Brawl-holla. It’s perfect. The horned helmets and spears and whatnot’ll make it even better.”

Others were uncertain.

“When Doris said ‘Wagner’ I thought she meant Robert Wagner,” Stoney Macadam said. “Now I’m really confused. I didn’t know he had a brother, much less that the brother wrote musicals. In German. I’d have studied German if I’d known.”

The cast includes:

Marina DeLow as Wotan

Payne Hanover as Fricka

Hugh Calloway as Siegmund

Jessie Catahoula as Sieglinde

Elena Havens as Siegfried

Lee Helm as Brunhild

Linford Blenny as Alberich

Antonio Fletcher as The Norns

“Had plenty of time to kill, so I figured why not learn some basic, myth-specific German and give it a shot?” Jessie Catahoula said. “Now, none of us can sing worth a damn, but that adds to the rustic appeal. We’re even looking at live streaming it so off-island people can see it.

“What really blows me away is the sheer scope of this production,” Catahoula said. “We’re not just staging a one-hour musical number. This is the biggest opera there is. It’s a definite go big or go home opportunity.”

Blenny hopes the operas will inspire future performers.

“I think the little ones will really like the story and the singing,” she said. “People talk about opera being unapproachable, but I think just the opposite is true. The kiddos should love it. Especially the brass and drums at the end of Götterdämmerung when everyone dies.”

Proceeds of the performances will go to the Blacktip Island chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

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