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El Paso Opera kicks season off with benefit show

Eric Vasquez, Entertainment Editor

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The El Paso Opera held their annual benefit show this weekend to raise money for their upcoming fall productions. Showcasing internationally known singers, the benefit aimed to give the audience an example of the caliber of talent taking part in the city’s opera.

Robert Gonzalez, the president and head of the board, stressed the importance of this benefit show.

“We are independently funded and supported,” Gonzalez said. “Our donations are what keeps us running.”

The show featured performances from artists who have both performed shows in El Paso and abroad such as Kellie Rumba Rattay, a soprano who played Frasquita in the 2016 production of “Carmen.” Rattay, who resides in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, has trained in Spain, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic.

David Holloway, artistic director, also entertained the crowd with his impressive baritone voice, singing a classic opera song “The Toreador” from “Carmen.” Holloway, prior to serving as artistic director in El Paso, served as the director for the Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Singer’s Program, was head of voice at Chicago College of Performing Arts, sang seven seasons with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and was the leading baritone at the Deutsche Opera Rhein in Düsseldorf. In short, the man has made his mark in the biggest circles of opera before bringing his talents to El Paso.

Helen Mott is one of a small group of dedicated donors inspired by the stunning lineup the El Paso Opera works to bring. The monthly check she receives from her late husband’s pension hardly spends a day in her bank account before going to the El Paso Opera.

“I began donating in the second season of the opera,” Mott said. “They’re in their 23rd season. My husband loved the opera, I still do, and I love to see it grow.”

As dedicated as some citizens are for the opera in El Paso, it remains, for some, to be esoteric entertainment. Without knowledge of the intricacies of the operatic art, a vocalist’s performance may seem like mere singing. However, as Daniel Maciel, a music education major and bass in the UTEP choir, said, the art form is a surprisingly complex one.

“The skill it takes to learn just one piece is crazy,” said Maciel. “Sometimes a professional opera singer can really only be fit for a few parts. It depends on your voice.”

Maciel said that the quality of a performance not only lies in how well you sing the piece, but how well you control the volume of your voice and communicate emotion.

“Opera singers don’t use microphones, so you really got to learn how to project for the entire theater. It really is the sport of the arts,” Maciel said.

The funds donated this weekend will support the production of this season’s “Tis the Season for Opera,” a medley of holiday-themed operas, and “Cinderella,” an opera written by Gioachino Rossini and adapted to take place in Hollywood.

For more information on the El Paso Opera, from upcoming productions and tickets to the history of opera in the Sun City, visit epopera.com.

Eric Vasquez may be reached at theprospectordaily.ent@gmail.com.

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Assayer of Student Opinion.
El Paso Opera kicks season off with benefit show