The Vineyard Playhouse is excited to welcome Opera Noire at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs for two special nights next week as part of the Playhouse’s African American Festival of Music and Theater.
Opera Noire is a New York City performing arts company and networking organization led by African American singers in pursuit of a serious performing career. The organization originated six years ago in an effort to foster an environment of encouragement and support while providing an opportunity for singers to train and develop vocally. Today, it participates annually in a major event to celebrate African American opera singers, such as the 3,000-person gala held last year at the Manhattan Center.
The organization holds monthly classes to familiarize singers with all aspects of a career in opera, from auditions to personal make-up training. It also runs educational programs for elementary and high school students, which include fundraisers that aim to incorporate the arts into school programming.
“I wanted to bring more exposure to African Americans in opera,” says Robert Mack, one of the three Opera Noire founders. Mr. Mack has wanted to return to the Vineyard since performing at the Playhouse six years ago, when he developed a strong relationship with Playhouse producer and artistic director MJ Bruder Munafo. The opera singer is currently on the Island performing in The Yard’s YardArts! Opera and is thrilled to have found the opportunity to bring his organization Island-bound next week for two unique performances.
Opera Noire will have their first concert on Tuesday, August 17, “A Gala Performance of Opera’s Greatest Hits,” a production that will feature pieces by four of the most popular and famous composers (Puccini, Bizet, Mozart, and Verdi).
On Thursday, August 19, the group will present “From the Underground Railroad to the Great White Way,” a concert that celebrates the African American experience through music. The performance includes spirituals and work songs that originated from slavery as a means to traverse the underground railway. It will also feature Broadway musicals either written by African Americans or with relevant subject matter.
“We thought we would return to Broadway selections since many African Americans turned to Broadway when they weren’t allowed to participate in opera,” Mr. Mack says and notes the topic’s applicability to the Vineyard, an Island that boasts a strong African American community.
His energy promises to be contagious. “It is incredible for us to be here,” he says. “The exposure is major, and we are all so excited.”
Tickets are $30 for general seating and $50 for preferred center section seating. They can be purchased online at vineyardplayhouse.org, at the Playhouse box office, and at the door if available. Visit the Vineyard Playhouse on the web for more information or contact them at 508-693-6300.