During the second weekend of April, Samford Opera and Opera Birmingham will be holding their first in person performance at the Amphitheatre in Avondale Park.
This joint performance is the result of the recent collaboration between Opera Birmingham and Samford University. Opera Birmingham’s General Director Keith Wolfe initially expressed an interest in the company investing time working with university students five years ago. This year, the partnership was officially named the Opera Birmingham Studio at Samford University.
Director of the Samford Opera Kristen Kenning elaborated on the Opera Birmingham Studio at Samford University.
“Samford University and Opera Birmingham have always enjoyed a close partnership, but recently with the creation of the Opera Birmingham Studio at Samford University, our partnership has grown,” Kenning said.
Students and professionals will perform alongside each other, offering an excellent educational experience for students.
“Graduate students are able to experience professional stage opportunities and performances with Opera Birmingham, while earning their Master of Music in Vocal Performance degrees at Samford,” Kenning said. “Many of our undergraduate vocal performance students are involved with this production as well.’
The COVID-19 pandemic has required performers to take precautions while rehearsing.
“We were able to rehearse the women’s ensemble on Samford’s campus and then do the larger rehearsals in a parking deck next to Opera Birmingham’s office,” Kenning said. “The whole semester was about generating safe and meaningful performance opportunities for our students.”
The performance will also require additional precautions because of the pandemic.
“This production will be presented in an outdoor, open-air setting following COVID-19 safety protocols,” Kenning said. “For the health of our patrons, Opera Birmingham staff and performers, face coverings and physical distancing are required at the event.”
Furthermore, tickets will be scanned as QR codes to reduce physical contact.
Kenning also discussed how the pandemic has affected the way she has approached directing this production.
“It’s a fun challenge,” she said. “Stage directing for me is always about telling stories through movement, and we’re performing in a very large space where we still have room to move. The students and professional actors are versatile, creative, and thoroughly committed to performing safely during the pandemic. It is vital for our community that we make every effort to do live performance, even if under unusual circumstances.”
The upcoming performance will be a production of The Pirates of Penzance on April 10 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. , as well as on April 11 at 2 p.m. More information is available on the Opera Birmingham website.