Free concert as the Edwardsville Opera celebrates its 5th anniversary

EDWARDSVILLE — The vision, direction and presentation gave Opera Edwardsville (OE) every advantage in educating the community about the arts, and it landed a most enthusiastic audience.

Not only has the non-profit OE been recognized in 2020 by the Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau for “Best Tourism Addition”, but through its children’s opera, masterclasses and free community concerts, OE has broke down barriers, becoming a mainstream event accessible to all ages and walks of life.

On several occasions over the past five years, OE has been pleasantly surprised by the reception its artistry has received, said OE founder and artistic director Chase Hopkins of Edwardsville, who splits his time in Chicago as as director of Haymarket Opera Company. OE rightly treats opera as modern art, not an “old European” ideal, whether through participation or observation, Hopkins said.

World-class opera will once again take the stage in Edwardsville at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 30 at Edwardsville City Park. The concert is free thanks to the support of donors and sponsors. Audiences can expect greatness from Christine Brewer, Grammy Award winner, OE artistic advisor and international opera star who lives in Lebanon, Illinois.

Brewer is set to give a special performance to celebrate OE’s fifth anniversary.

“I’m very proud of what Chase has done over the past five years, especially when this new opera company had to deal with the pandemic shutdown just as it was getting started,” Brewer said.

“Chase got creative with his planning and he found ways to keep making things, like the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ tapings,” she said. “It’s become a tradition for many to tune in and hear a new artist during the Christmas season.”

The McKendree University alum also praised OE’s educational mission.

“I’m very proud of the work that OE has done in school systems, enabling children to see and hear wonderful children’s opera,” said Brewer.

She said she is looking forward to the free outdoor concert on September 30.

“It’s been quite a gift to our community, and we hope it will bring people back over the years as the business continues to grow,” she said.

People can arrive early in downtown Edwardsville for cocktails and pre-show admissions to Cleveland Heath at 106 N. Main St. Guests are encouraged to plan alfresco dining with picnics to enjoy. join an evening of operatic favorites performed by some of today’s leading opera stars from Germany, Australia and the USA

OE has curated an online playlist on Spotify for people who want to check out the music before a gig or event.

“Offering the Spotify playlist is a simple way to share the musical program with our audience before the concert,” Hopkins explained. “People love to listen and get to know music a bit before they hear it live.”

Technology has advanced OE’s mission and purpose. The previous digital production of OE’s Opera for Kids’ “Three Little Pigs” reached nearly 7,000 views.

Hopkins said the COVID-19 pandemic has taught him a lot about how to reach out digitally for arts education and how to communicate with audiences. The Rotary Club of Edwardsville proved much could be done during a catastrophic lockdown by sponsoring a then little-known non-profit arts organization that formed just two years before the pandemic hit.

OE’s annual Christmas videos of “Christmas at The Wildey” reached over 80,000 viewers over two years.

“We’re looking forward to the third installment coming December,” Hopkins said.

“Thank you to our sponsors in attendance, the Rotary Club of Edwardsville, the City of Edwardsville, Lewis Rice, Stifel and the Schmidt and Barton Family Fund,” Hopkins said. Additional support comes from 222 Artisan Bakery, Hortica, Bank of Madison County, Southern Illinois Young Artist Organization Vocal Competition, and Tessitura Music.

“Special thanks to the Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau, Edwardsville Public Library, Cleveland Heath and Scott Evers Photography,” noted Hopkins.

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