If I say so myself, Moon River Opera is a fantastic company. Besides being very accessible to
the public (we’ll get to that in a moment), they hire, for the most part, local talent and do shows
that aren’t done as often. Later this fall, they’ll do a Menotti double bill of The Telephone
and The Old Maid and the Thief. But, before they get to that, they are bringing back an audience
favorite: Improv Opera! If you haven’t seen it in the past, it is a Cabaret-style show that has the
singers performing well-known opera arias and duets, while adding in improvisational elements
such as mad-libs, audience participation, and other such things. So, if that description doesn’t
persuade you to go, here are 5 more reasons to catch Improv Opera!
1. It’s all in English.
So, I mentioned earlier that Moon River Opera strives to be accessible to all kinds of audiences.
This is one of the central tenets of their company. So, to that end, every performance is in English.
So often, people believe that they can’t get into opera because they can’t understand what’s
happening, even with subtitles and a detailed synopsis in the program. Improv Opera takes
place in Telfair Square so there is no capability for supertitles of any kind. I can imagine that, at
first thought, this would be intimidating for opera beginners. Fear not! All of these opera
favorites are sung in English. That means it doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned opera-goer or a
novice. You’ll be able to understand!
2. There’s no dress code.
When you’re planning a night out at the opera, another thing that can deter someone is the
expectation of what to wear. In cartoons and other media, the opera is portrayed as a black-tie
affair. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s fun to dress to the nines and grab your opera
glasses. But, Improv Opera is outdoors. Tails and a top hat wouldn’t be very comfortable in the
late summer, Savannah heat. So, grab your cargo shorts and tank tops, folks! It’s time for a trip
to the opera!
3. You are part of the performance (as little or as much as you want to be).
When you get to the performance, there will probably be little slips of paper for you to fill out.
This is for a staple act of Improv Opera, the madlib aria. Now, if this is as much participation as
you are willing to give, perfect! You’ve already made the performers’ lives easier. Now you can
sit back, relax, and laugh through the rest of the show. If, however, you’re feeling a little more
outgoing, you can volunteer to be a part of any myriad of acts that the performers come up with.
What kind of acts will they be? I don’t know! You’ll have to go to the performance and find out!
4. You may see some familiar faces (or you’ll see the first performance for some awesome new faces)
Another great thing about Moon River Opera is that it functions similarly to a repertory company.
Once you’re in their rotation, they’ll bring you back whenever possible. But, in order to build up a
reserve of singers to pull from, you have to have a first performance. More often than not,
Improv Opera is the vehicle that Artistic Director Brenna Dudley uses to show off new-to-MRO
talent to the community. For Improv Opera V, the familiar faces that you’ll see are Artistic
Director and Soprano Brenna Dudley, Soprano TNai Amani, and MRO Music Director Kelsea
Batson at the piano. Joining these company favorites, for their company debut, are Mezzo-
Soprano Katherine Kincaid, Tenor Nicklaus Porter, Baritone Jackson Harvey, and Countertenor
Robert Francis Orbach. But, I’m sure that after this performance, you’ll be able to add those
names to the MRO favorite column.
5 No two performances are the same (so you don’t want to miss a single one!)
One of the most fun things about rehearsing for something like Improv Opera is that you cannot
truly plan for every eventually. The rehearsal process is quick and dirty. The singers come in
knowing their music and being familiar with the “scriptlet” that connects all the
arias/duets/ensemble pieces together. The next hurdle is figuring out what comedy bits go best
with each musical piece. Once that is figured out, you can only vaguely sketch out what will
happen on stage. Audience participation is the biggest variable and the most important piece of
Improv Opera. That means that, even if you’ve seen a performance of Improv Opera before, it
won’t be anything like the one happening this Saturday. The only thing that you can count on in
Improv Opera is that it will surprise you (and that it will end with the Champagne Chorus).
There you have it! Five more reasons to catch Improv Opera this Saturday, August 26 at 7pm at
Telfair Square in Savannah’s Downtown Historic District. Whether you’re a seasoned opera goer
or you’ve never been to the opera before, there is a place for you in the audience. Come on out
and help Moon River Opera “Make Opera Fun Again!”
Get your tickets now for Improv Opera V, available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/improv-
About the author: Equally at home in opera, musical theatre, and on the concert stage, Lydia
has been praised for her “great warmth, intelligence and power.” She’s sung roles as diverse as
Pamina in Zie Magic Flute and Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. She has also sung Paula
Foley Tillen’s music for Southminster Presbyterian Church. She’s performed with the Milwaukee
Symphony Orchestra, Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, All In Productions,
First Stage Children’s Theatre, Sunset Playhouse, Waukesha Civic Theatre, Soulstice Theatre,
Haylofters, Boulevard Theatre, Capital City Theatre, Plymouth Chorale, and Fresco Opera
Theatre. Lydia studies with Marlee Sabo. Lydia is a proud friend of Moon River Opera, where
you have seen her as Rinuccia in Gianni Schicchi and a performer in Improv Opera IV and Sing
Prima Donna Once More. www.lydiaroseeiche.com