June 17, 2007
Opera Cowpokes ride into Cortland
Opera stars sing classic western and country western songs
The Opera Cowpokes are coming to town to make their debut performance in downtown Cortland at 4 p.m. Sunday June 17, in Court House Park on Church Street. Pictured (R-L) are Steven Stull, Tim LeFebvre, Todd Geer, Peter Sicilian, Linda Larson, Melisse Weber.
Whoa, there! Can it be true? The Opera Cowpokes are coming to town with their special blend of music, dance, horseplay, cowboy poetry, and lost-and-found love. Sponsored by The Arts at Grace, this family and cult favorite makes its debut performance in downtown Cortland at 4 p.m. Sunday June 17 in Court House Park on Church Street.
"Opera Cowpokes Alive!" features stars from the Tri-Cities Opera and Syracuse Opera, a hot western swing band and an exciting cast of dancers from throughout the central New York region. You'll enjoy tunes from Grand Opera to Grand Ol' Opry, as new songs and new dances join perennial favorites like "Cool Water" and "Ragtime Cowboy Joe."
Here's what people are saying about "Opera Cowpokes Alive!":
"You blew my socks off — boots and all!"
"We had a rip-roar'n, dirt-kick'n time!"
"I've never considered myself either a country or a western fan, but was mighty taken by (your) renditions.... It's a fun change from lust, vengeance, dying consumptives and so on."
So, grab your boots and hang on to your hat — Lucia di Lammermoor meets Lucille in "Opera Cowpokes Alive!"
Based on the hit compact disc recording "Opera Cowpokes," "Opera Cowpokes Alive!" features opera stars performing western and country/western songs, as well as favorite traditional folk tunes with a contemporary twist. Producers baritone Steven Stull and choreographer Jeanne Goddard break down the barriers between "classical" and "popular" performance and bring together an impressive collection of musicians and dancers from both worlds in "Opera Cowpokes Alive!"
Well known to Central New York audiences from their performances with Glimmerglass Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Syracuse Opera and The Arts at Grace, the nationally known singers include: Steven Stull, Timothy LeFebvre, David Neal, and Bob Allen. Instrumentalists include some of Central New York's best-loved players: bassist and music director Peter Chwazik, guitarist Dave Davies, mandolin and fiddle players Rick Manning and Max Buckholtz, pianist John White, and special surprise guests.
This not-to-be-missed event takes place at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 17 in Court House Park in downtown Cortland. In case of rain, the performance will be held indoors at Grace Episcopal Church, 13 Court St., Cortland. All Arts at Grace events are open to the public at no charge. Voluntary contributions can be made. For further information, call the church at (607) 753-3073 or the CRS Barn Studio at (607) 257-2043. The Opera Cowpokes Web address is operacowpokes.com
The Arts at Grace is a community outreach effort of Grace Episcopal Church with the assistance of many contributors from the greater Cortland community. The series is also supported by a Vision Grant from the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, funds from the New York State Council of the Arts Decentralization Grants, as well as the New York State Music Fund, established by New York Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
What do you get when opera singers perform classic western and country-western songs? The answer is, as their name so generously hints, Opera Cowpokes. These internationally acclaimed opera singers are responsible for their rendition of over twenty cowboy classics.
Steve Stull is the man that is to be held accountable for this collaboration. He has been singing in the Ithaca area for quite some time now. He had an idea, while traveling and gracing Ithaca audiences with his baritone, opera-style voice. In 1996, he had the inspiration to gather all of his friends and produce twenty-three classic western songs, his way. The result was a quartet that included Stull, Todd Greer, Timothy LeFebvre, and Peter Sicilian; however, the project expanded to include other famous singers and instrumentalists. Currently, the cast comes to nine people: Stull, Greer, LeFebvre, Sicilian, Phyllis Pancella, Stephen Powell, Dean Elzinga, and Raul Melo.
This may indeed be the world's first cross-over opera conglomeration. Many people are excited and praise this new band.
The following quotes can be found on the group's website: operacowpokes.com
"It's a magical compendium of classic Americana" -- Lansing Comm. News
This CD means an hour or so of real fun. As I was listening, and smiling broadly all the while, I wondered about the audience for this delightful concoction - people who love opera? Western and popular songs? Crossover renditions? Probably all of the above. -- Ithaca Times