Maybe opera isn’t for everyone, but I imagine that many of the people who claim not to care for opera have never been to the opera. There’s not a lot to not like. Opera generally has fabulous sets and costumes, heartbreakingly good stories, gorgeous music and most exquisite voices. Not everyone is the type to play a little Puccini in the car, but the experience of opera is a lovely and extraordinary affair.
Sharon Maxwell-Yamamoto, executive director of the newly formed San Jose-based company Opera Bravura, knows all about the magic of opera and is on a mission to bring that magic to the people. A longtime opera singer, Maxwell-Yamamoto has re-created the opera experience in a light and accessible format that still manages to capture the magic of going to the opera. “I want everybody to see that opera is beautiful,” she says, explaining her vision for Opera Bravura. “But it’s also for people who want to see it in more digestible bites instead of sitting through an entire night of opera; I’m going to show them the fun pieces.”
The idea for Opera Bravura is to present opera, operetta and musical theater selections as well as concerts of music from the Golden Age of Hollywood, in a “fun and slightly unexpected way” by trained opera singers in a professional-level setting, with supertitles and custom-made costumes, including some that have been flown in from India and China.
The first Opera Bravura performance, entitled “Love, Lust, Revenge and Death,” which takes place on May 21 at the First Unitarian Church of San Jose, illustrates “the four things that you will find in pretty much any opera,” says Maxwell-Yamamoto. “These things are in most operas, and if you think about it,” she continues, “they’re in everybody’s life too. Opera is pretty much what happens in life, but with prettier music.”
With a cast of seven players coming from as far away as New York and as nearby as San Jose, a selection of songs from 13 famous operas, including Madama Butterfly, The Magic Flute, Carmen, Faust, Turandot and La boheme, and a round theatre that brings to mind European opera houses, “Love, Lust, Revenge and Death” promises to be an exciting kickoff for Opera Bravura and a one-of-a-kind evening for local opera appreciators. “This one is all opera and it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser,” says Maxwell-Yamamoto, “whether people think they know opera or not.”
Saturday, 7:30pm; $26
First Unitarian Church of San Jose