Sorry, No Horned Helmet

By Madeline Kimberly

Get ready for high-pitched singing and large poofy dresses.

The opera is coming to Shoreline Community College.

The upcoming operas are “Cabildo” and “The Fox Tales,” brought to you by director Charles Enlow, who is a faculty member at SCC.

Enlow is a professional concert pianist and has recorded and performed many times in the field of opera.

“Opera has everything — great music, passionate stories and visual spectacle,” Enlow said. He finds the opera to be an “addictive art form.”

The SCC campus will be hosting an opera workshop which will aim to help students who are hoping to pursue a career in theater and opera.

Enlow says the workshop is “rigorous and [will give] students the rare chance to work with renowned stage directors, choreographers, conductors and musical theater and opera professionals.”

Enlow’s passion for the opera and theater was what compelled him to open a regional training ground for any student who wanted to experience performing on stage.

For this year, the workshop is centered on “complete one-act operas.” Students will each be cast in a role. Training and practice will come afterwards, before they perform on the stage.
One of the operas, “Cabildo,” was composed by Amy March Cheney Beach in 1932. It was the only opera she had ever composed.

Enlow describes Beach as a “child prodigy.” She composed various piano, voice, symphony and chamber music pieces. She started composing at the age of 3 and by the age of 7, she was already performing as a pianist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Beach collaborated with playwright Nan Bagby Stephens to create “Cabildo”; Beach composed the music while Stephens came up with the story.

Enlow says that “Cabildo” tells the story of “lost love, betrayal and final redemption.” The story, combined with the romantic composition left him “captivated.”

“Cabildo” takes place during the 1930s in New Orleans and is set in the “famous hotel and governor’s palace,” Cabildo.

The opera features the pirate Pierre Lafitte, a real-life historical figure. One of the main themes of the story is how he was “falsely imprisoned,” and the tale follows how and why he escaped.

This play was never performed in front of Beach, as she died before it was published. Since then it has only been performed a “handful of times.”

Enlow said that this will be a “landmark performance opportunity.”

On the other hand, “Fox Tales” by Peter Winkler is filled with humor.

“The Fox Tales” is a collection of three shorter operas. All three operas are stories involving a fox: “The Lion and The Fox,” “The Fox and The Grapes” and “The Fox and The Hen.”

“The Fox and The Grapes” is based on an Aesop’s fable and features a fox and its obsession with grapes; what’s funny about the story is that we also look through the perspective of the grapes.

Aesop was a storywriter and slave who was said to have lived in Greece in the early to mid sixth century BCE. He wrote many of the most popular fables; the one people are most familiar with is probably the story of the tortoise and the hare — “slow and steady wins the race.”

“The Lion and The Fox” follows the confrontations between a fox and a lion. It shows how the fox fears the king of the jungle but gets bolder with every confrontation.

“The Fox and The Hen” is said to be based on another of Aesop’s fables, but the truth is it came from medieval Europe. It tells the story of the trickster, the fox, being easily tricked back by the hen.

Both operas won the Contemporary American Festival Competition sponsored by the Boston Metro Opera in 2011.

The operas will be performed on-campus Feb. 24-26.