Northwest opera buffs will gather just about anywhere to hear soaring arias — including in Oro Valley’s council chambers.

Opera 101, a program of the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council, used to meet at Oro Valley Town Hall. When the program later moved to the Hilton El Conquistador Country Club, listeners did too.

Next month, Opera 101 will take to a new setting when St. Mark’s United Methodist Church opens its theater-like sanctuary to the group for upcoming performances.

“It has a very nice stage area,” said Vivian Weede, who has performed with Opera 101 since its inception. “It looks like a theater more than a church, even.”

On Sunday Feb. 1, when football fans are busy celebrating Super Bowl Sunday, people who prefer a different kind of drama will gather at the church for excerpts of Giacomo Puccini’s “La Boheme,” “Madame Butterfly” and “Tosca.”

There, they’ll hear tales of love and obsession that, in every case, end in death.

“Puccini was a very dramatic gentleman,” Weede said.

Weede will introduce the Puccini arias, duets, trios and quartets, providing easy access to them for opera novices and seasoned opera enthusiasts, alike.

“I use some of the Italian text and translate it in a dramatic manner,” Weede said. “Then when the singers enact the scenes and we hear the words, somehow people will relate to them more.”

“La Boheme” tells the story of a poor artist in Paris’ Latin Corner who falls in love with a frail seamstress and then loses her to consumption. The opera “Tosca,” also tells the story of an artist that ends in bloodshed. “Madame Butterfly” tells of a U.S. Navy officer in Japan who pledges his love to a Japanese woman and then marries an American, compelling the first love to kill herself with her father’s sword.

The Opera 101 performers all hail from the Tucson area. Their collective biography includes performances with opera companies across the United States and in other parts of the world.


WHAT: Opera 101

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1

WHERE: St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 1431 W. Magee Road

COST: $15

PHONE: 797-3959


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