Opera in the Ozarks appears at Concordia

Rachel Dickerson/The Weekly Vista Opera in the Ozarks artists (from left) Il Hee Lee, Yeon Jae Cho and Joseph Canter sing a piece from "Orpheus and the Underworld" during a performance at Concordia Retirement Community on Thursday, May 17.
Rachel Dickerson/The Weekly Vista Opera in the Ozarks artists (from left) Il Hee Lee, Yeon Jae Cho and Joseph Canter sing a piece from "Orpheus and the Underworld" during a performance at Concordia Retirement Community on Thursday, May 17.

A group of singers from Opera in the Ozarks performed on Thursday, May 17, for residents at Condordia Retirement Community.

Chris Cathcart, operations director for Opera in the Ozarks, said the organization has existed in Eureka Springs for 72 years. He said before the season starts, as a community outreach, artists travel to community groups such as schools and retirement centers and perform to demonstrate the kind of shows that will be in the upcoming season. He said what they were presenting on May 17 was the kind of opera people would recognize, and it would be educational and entertaining.

One of the artists, Joseph Canter of Tallahassee, Fla., said he just earned his master's degree in voice, and he learned Opera in the Ozarks was looking for a baritone. He said he hoped to gain more experience and roles in opera from his time with Opera in the Ozarks. He said he did music in middle school and high school but did not become involved with opera until later, at age 27. He said it combined his interests, because he had a background in massage therapy and had an interest in how the body works, and also he studied Italian in college and he had an interest in languages.

Married couple Il Hee Lee and Yeon Jae Cho, both of Seoul, South Korea, are students at the New England Conservatory of Music and were also part of the group who performed on May 17.

Yeon Jae Cho said she enjoys learning different languages, such as Italian, German, French and sometimes English as well, in opera.

"When I was a child, I loved to sing," she said.

Il Hee Lee said he likes that opera singers learn to make big sounds without using a microphone.

Daniel Weber was accompanist for the group. He said Opera in the Ozarks will open a new theater in 2025 thanks to a grant from the Walton Family Foundation. He introduced each piece. The group performed pieces in Italian, French, German and English from "La Boheme," "Rigoletto," "The Elixir of Love," "The Magic Flute," "Les Miserables," "Orpheus and the Underworld," along with the song "Some Enchanted Evening" in English and "First Love," a Korean art pop song.

Judging from the applause, the crowd that attended enjoyed the performance very much.

Kathy Reidl, who was in town from Wisconsin visiting her father and his wife, who are Concordia residents, said, "Very impressive. I thought it was a high-caliber performance."

Virgie Reidl, Kathy Reidl's father's wife, said, "Very enjoyable."

Resident Rosalie Robinson said, "I lived in a place where we were lucky to go to New York, and all I could think was how special it was to sit here and enjoy the same thing again. I can't believe we had them come."

The upcoming season for Opera in the Ozarks goes from June 23 through July 21. For more information on Opera in the Ozarks, go to opera.org.