Mostly Mozart plays at library
The Dripping Springs Community Library hosted “Mostly Mozart-An Evening of Opera,” on Thursday Jan. 31st, which included performances by Soprano Deborah Scott, Mezzo-Soprano Rachelle DeMichele, and Baritone Shamus Hammons.
The one-hour concert was part of educational outreach by Opera-Etc., a group formed by Scott last year. “Our goal is to make opera more accessible to a wider audience by performing in smaller venues, and by taking opera into schools, creating a new generation of opera lovers,” Scott said of her group’s purpose.
Scott said the library concert was scheduled with the help of a fellow opera lover at the library. “Last November I spoke with Kaylee Black [DSCL Adult/Young Adult Service] at the library about doing some opera at the library, and fortunately she’s an opera lover and was enthusiastic about the idea. We decided that Mozart’s birthday was a good time to schedule the performance,” Scott said.
The pieces for the performance were picked from a selection Scott and DeMichele had already been practicing just for fun. “Michelle and I got together several months ago and decided to start singing some duets just for fun. Of course we’re limited to the voices we have. I’m a Soprano, and Michelle is a Mezzo-Soprano. Then to make it more fun, I asked my husband [Shamus] to join our performance,” Scott said.
“The idea of performing for fun, was also part of the catalyst of forming Opera-Etc,” Scott said. “I teach general music at a privates school here in Dripping Springs, but I realized I wasn’t quite done with performing myself. I thought it would be fun to find others like myself who wanted to perform. There’s not a lot of classical music here in Dripping Springs. I thought there might be a place for something like this here. Dripping Springs is a very creative place.”
Scott, who has performed in many musical genres, is classically trained and has performed a number of opera roles on stage, including Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Pamina in Queen of the Night, and Mimi in La Boheme. She has a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Biola University and a Master of Music, Vocal Arts from the University of Southern California.
De-Michele has likewise performed a number of opera roles, including Carmen in Carmen, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Delilah I Samson et Delilah. She holds a degree in music and vocal performance from The University of Washington in Seattle.
Scott’s husband, Shamus Hammons, began his interest in music singing with the Pasadena Boys Choir at age ten, and progressed to playing trumpet, guitar, bass, and piano. It was through piano that he discovered the joys of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. He has many years of performing in both contemporary and classical settings.
Most of the evening was sung in Italian, but the German language duet of “Bei manner welche liebe fuhlen” sung by Scott and DeMichele, clearly demonstrated the difficult language requirements of the art form, on-top of its musical demands. “Mozart was fluent in Italian and even French, but he was an Austrian, and his first language was German. In this German language duet, the characters praise the virtues of marriage,” Scott said. “By the way, he also knew Latin, and wrote Latin masses.”
In a non-Mozart selection, a slice of Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicci was sung. Despite introducing the piece with humor, Scott’s performance of “O mio babbino caro,” was unexpectedly tender and sincere. In her introduction, Scott said, “The aria is about a young woman who is asking her father’s permission to marry a young man of which the father disapproves of-- with all of the drama of a young person. She even threatens to throw herself into the river, because life is not worth living without him. But it ends up being OK. It turns out that daddy is a push over.” The aria title translates into English as “Oh my dear daddy.”
A total of 14 songs were performed the three singers. They were: Sull’aria from Le Nozze di Figaro; Flower Duet from Lakme (Leo Delibes); Deh vieni non tardar from Le Nozze di Figaro; Ah, perdona al primo affetto from La Clemenza di Tito; Voi che sapete from Le Nozze di Figaro; Deh prendi from La Clemenza di Tito; Una donna quindici anni from Cosi fan Tutte; Soave sia il vento from Cosi fan Tutte; Smanie implacabili from Cosi fan Tutte; Bei mannern welche liebe fuhlen from Die Zauberflote; O Mio Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi; Mon Coeur from Samson et Delilah; Barcarolle – Belle Nuit from The Tales of Hoffman; and Abendsegen from Hansel & Gretel.
For the concert, the room children’s library section was filled to capacity, and additional chairs had to be hastily brought into the room to facilitate a larger than expected audience. At the end of the concert, Scott, DeMichelle, and Hammons received a standing ovation from the audience.
More information about opera outreach and workshops by Scott can be found at opera-etc.com.