Karyl Charna Lynn

San Francisco Opera has released an impressive array of DVDs of its outstanding productions. A couple of the most recent are Porgy and Bess with Eric Owens, LaQuita Mitchell, Lester Lynch, Chaucey Packer, Karen Slack, conducted by John DeMain, and the not to be missed I Capuleti e I Montecchi with a superb cast that captured the essence of this supreme bel canto masterpiece of Bellini. Joyce Didonato (Romeo), Nicole Cabell (Giulietta), Saimir Pirgu (Tebaldo), Eric Owens (Capellio) Ao Li (Lorenzo) conducted by Riccardo Frizza.

Fargo – Moorhead Opera,

Fargo, North Dakota


When one hears Fargo, one imagines the place to be like the 1996, award-winnning Coen brother’s film, Fargo, based on actual crime events which took place in the snow-covered plains of 1987 Minnesota. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover a thriving opera company, Fargo-Moorhead Opera Company (originally called Fargo-Moorhead Civic Opera) in a vibrant city filled with museums, galleries, restaurants, and shops, so many in fact, that it is difficult to find a parking downtown.


Festival Hall on the North Dakota State University campus hosted The Gondoliers, the inaugural performance of the newly formed Fargo-Moorhead Civic Opera in April 1969. A group of local residents felt that there were many musical members of the community without an outlet for their talent, as well as sufficient interest in the region to establish a light opera company. The company quickly expanded its offerings the second season with Il segreto di Susanna,Trial By Jury, The Student Prince, and Carmen, including bringing in talent from outside the local area. The repertory quickly expanded, continuing with less frequently performed works like Susannah, Pergolesi’s The Music Master and Argento’s The Boor along with light operas and musicals. The 1980s brought Eugene Onegin, Zar und Zimmermann, Ballad of Baby Doe along with repertory favorites like Traviata, Butterfly, and Barbiere di Siviglia.  The 1990s continued in a similar vein with rarely performed Haydn’s Creation along with repertory favorites and light operas. David Hamilton, whose background as a baritone whose credits include singing at the Metropolitan Opera, took over as executive director in the 1990s. He is also a professor at Concordia College which has a large music department, providing a “ready-made” chorus for the company’s performances. He has continued with three opera season, two mainstage with one production still a lighter opera to bring those scared of opera to a performance, and one smaller, experimental work that included a world premiere, Buried Alive and Embedded, during the 2013-14 season. Upcoming 2014-2015 season includes Merry Wives of Windsor, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Daughter of the Regiment.


The company also presents unique fundraising galas.  In 2012 I attended their first annual Snowball Gala which besides auction items, dinner and dancing, included a mini-opera as entertainment, The Reluctant Dragon, which was a fun way of introducing opera in a “non-threatening” festive environment to those new to the art form. Upcoming is an International Dinner Series. While visiting Fargo, I recommend the Hilton Garden Inn, which offers complimentary airport shuttle. www.fmopera.org

Wolf Trap Opera Company celebrates Verdi’s Bicentennial with La traviata for one night only, on Friday, July 19 at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Staging Verdi’s masterpiece for the first time since 1976, the company has joined forces with the National Symphony Orchestra and The Washington Chorus in this new production which offers site specific video projections of original scenic designs created by Aaron Rhyne and will be updated to the Roaring Twenties. The 1976

La traviata featured Beverly Sills as Violetta as at that time established professionals sang the leading roles in Wolf Trap Opera Company productions and young artists sang in the chorus. Since 1985, all leading roles have been performed by the Filene Young Artists, an elite group of young singers who are chosen through a highly-selective annual nationwide audition tour. Grant Gershon conducts the National Symphony Orchestra and José María Condemi directs this new, fully-staged production.

Fargo Theater, downtown

Plains Art Museum, Fargo

Reluctant Dragon, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Snowball Gala

Plains Art Museum, Fargo

Reluctant Dragon, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Snowball Gala, Fargo
Plains Art Museum, view of atrium, Fargo
Karyl Lynn with Placido Domingo