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Opera on Vashon kicks off with “La Boheme” this weekend

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Sep. 15, 2009 at 6:00 am |
September 14, 2009 10:57 am

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Just when you thought life on Vashon couldn’t get any more civilized, there’s now a homegrown opera company. Vashon Opera is a new non-profit that is staging three full opera productions in its first year, beginning with Puccini’s “La Boheme” this weekend. 

Why an opera company on Vashon?

“There wasn’t one,” laughs Jennifer Krikawa, co-founder and artistic director, who’ll sing the role of Mimi. Krikawa and her husband, Andrew (a baritone who’ll sing Marcello) moved to Vashon from New York nearly five years ago with two small children. Having left their careers behind them, as Krikawa puts it, they sang locally with the Vashon Island Chorale, but discovered – as do many other singers – that the traveling life of an opera singer in the Northwest isn’t that easy with young kids.

Plus, as Krikawa says, there are plenty of island residents “who love going to cultural stuff you don’t have to take a ferry for.” 

Solution? An on-island opera company, featuring island residents as chorus and three of the principals (the accompanist and musical director is also a Vashon resident). “La Boheme” will be performed with full set and costume in the Vashon High School Theater; the free February children’s opera “Little Red Riding Hood” will be staged in the Ober Park Performance Room; and in May Copland’s “The Tender Land” will be held in Bethel Church, where there’s room for a 13-piece orchestra.

For “La Boheme,” director Elizabeth Ripley (who’ll also sing Musetta) sets the Puccini favorite in 1942 occupied Paris, where the romantic artist muse combines with the desperation of residents controlled by an occupying army. The opera will be sung in Italian, with English supertitles.

Unfortunately, tickets ($20) for both the Friday 8 p.m. and Sunday 2:30 p.m. performances are sold out. Opera on Vashon is clearly popular, so mark your diaries for the next production well in advance.

For more information and rehearsal videos, see www.vashonopera.org

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