What's Opera, Doc?

Published in the Saturday, February 27, 2010 edition of the Daily Commercial, Leesburg, FL

ROXANNE BROWN

Staff Writer

CLERMONT--If there is one thing Clermont resident and Lake Sumter Community College Professor Norma Trivelli loves, it's opera.

So much so, that she wanted to spread her knowledge about it and bring more of the art to the South Lake Community.

"Opera has always been my passion. It just takes me away," Trivelli said. "Opera is a combination of literature, poetry, art because of the staging and scenery, history because you have to know all about the habits and culture of certain eras for costumes, voice and music. "

"It's a total package of all the combined arts. I think that summarizes opera perfectly."

Trivelli, who once sang with the Salmaggi Opera Group in Brooklyn and in the chorus at the City Center in New York City, now teaches foreign language and voice at LSCC's Clermont campus.

Though the Bob Carr in Orlando brings live opera, Trivelli said she felt it wasn't enough because many people just can't get there for various reasons.

Last year, she brainstormed a way to bring opera into town and approached the Cooper Memorial Library for a venue.

As it turns out, Cooper's Reference Librarian Dennis Smolarek shared Trivelli's love of opera--the only difference being that Trivelli is an Italian opera aficionada, while Smolarek leans toward the German repertoire.

After a few discussions, Cooper agreed to support Triveli's idea, hence the beginning of "Opera@theLibrary," a free monthly program that began last October.

"It's a good opportunity to learn about and listen to opera and enjoy the whole operatic experience which to me is the most passionate form of musical expression," Smolarek said. "The people who've come seem to really be enjoying it too and the best part is that it transcends to people of all ages."

On the fourth Monday of every month, from 2 to 5 p.m. in the library's community room, Trivelli and Smolarek have teamed up to bring in an opera a month.

Before the first act of the month's opera choice, Trivelli talks to attendees about the composer, the music and the opera itself. Programs detailing the main points of each act are also made available and an intermission provides a time for refreshments and mingling.

Trivelli said the operas they show all include subtitles, so even f the opera is in another language, people should not feel intimidated.

"It's very enlightening and very interesting and everyone who's come seems truly impressed," Smolarek said.

Since October, the Opera@theLibrary has been presenting the operas written by Giacomo Puccini, a trend they will continue through June or July, when they will switch to another composer.

Possibly Verdi or Mozart, Trivelli said.

Trivelli said they decided to start with Puccini because most people find his works "very pleasing, melodic and likable."

Trivelli said no opera house in the world puts on a season without a Puccini opera.

Atendees have had the opportunity to watch La Boheme, Tosca and last week, La Fanciulla del West (or The Girl of the Golden West).

"It's wonderful. What a great thing to be happening in Clermont. There's a lot of interest in opera, probably more than people would think. The music is so beautiful," said attendee Brian Shiley, who sings tenor in the Vocal Express Barbershop Chorus of Clermont.

Virginia Shiley, Brian's mom, there with him for La Fanciulla del West last week, said Brian has had a love for opera since he was little because she would lay him down in front of the stereo with opera playing to put him to sleep when he was cranky as a child.

Maxine Main of Clermont said while watching an opera on the big screen is not exactly like seeing it live, still called the program "wonderful."

"It's a wonderful community service that may be introducing people to opera who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity any other way," Main said.

March's program will be Madama Butterfly, one that organizers are expecting to be "standing room only," because of its popularity.

So far, Trivelli and Smolarek have been pleased with the showing--about 50-60--each month but said they would welcome anyone interested in being exposed to the art.

"We want to enhance the public's knowledge and appreciation (of opera) since we consider it one of the top forms of entertainment," Trivelli said. "I enjoy opera so much and that's the thing; I want people to learn about it and experience it for themselves, because they are really missing so much if they don't."

For more information about Opera@theLibrary call 352-536-2275
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