The May 17 concert on May 17 at Sacred Heart Cultural Center will feature the Augusta Opera Chorus, soloists and orchestra. It will include excerpts from three of the most popular works by Gilbert & Sullivan – The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado.
The soloists for the evening will include soprano Tina Milhorn Stallard, of Columbia, mezzo-soprano Diane Haslam, of Aiken, and tenor Jamison Walker and baritone Washington Isaac Holmes, both of Augusta.
The performance will be conducted by Richard Earl Cook, the general director and conductor of the company.
“I’m very happy that we’re using as many local and regional artists as we can,” Cook said. “I’m very devoted to that whole philosophy. I believe that the arts in this community should be produced by artists from within the community. That just increases and improves the quality of life for any city … to have professional quality musicians living and working among us.”
This is the Augusta Opera’s first performance since its fully staged production of Puccini’s Suor Angelica in February 2011 and a wine-tasting fundraiser/opera aria performance in December, Cook said.
During the last few years, Augusta Opera took a break from stage productions because of the cost, Cook said.
“The economic downturn of 2009 really hit the arts community pretty hard because we depend so much upon the generosity of supporters and patrons. When their pocket books get hurt, so do ours. Opera is very expensive. It’s the most expensive art form there is.”
To produce opera performances, Cook said, they must rent costumes and hire a full cast of professional artists, an orchestra, stage management and a production crew.
Founded in 1967, the Augusta Opera Association is the oldest opera company in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, Cook said.
“We’re about to present a wonderful evening for their enjoyment. Opera is back in Augusta, and it’s something worth attending, seeing and supporting,” he said.