It is few and far between that one can find an opera fan these days. However, opera is alive and well, and Opera Idaho is Boise’s source for the art form. The organization, which has been serving the Treasure Valley for over 45 years, continues to perform new operas as well as classic favorites. Mark Junkert, the general director of the organization, says that the combination of old and new allows them to serve their supporters in a unique way.
“We’ve expanded [the]number of operas we do in the time I’ve been here, and now present a full season of opera like other companies around the country in metropolitan areas the same size as ours,” Junkert said. “It corresponds with the growth in population here in Boise; the Treasure Valley has grown as we’ve grown.”
The company is able to invest significantly more into performances than they had in previous years, and Junkert said that a large reason for this is growth in ticket sales and donations.
“We try to give people a balance of things that people maybe haven’t seen or heard, or maybe they’ve seen them in other cities before they moved here,” Junkert said.
For Dr. C. Michael Porter, Opera Idaho uses its community outreach in more ways than just bringing in new audiences. Dr. Porter facilitates the resident artist company in connection with Opera Idaho which allows Boise State vocal performance students to participate in smaller roles in the company’s various productions.
“It’s a way that they get another educational experience that’s a real-world experience outside of what we can offer here at Boise State,” Porter said. “This is one of our biggest selling points in the vocal area: if you come here to Boise State you get this wonderful opportunity that the university offers in terms of the performances and the education here, but also to do a production that is with a professional company. That’s not something you get everywhere.”
Porter said that allowing students to work with professional vocalists and musicians gives them the experience that can be added to their resumes to help with finding work after graduation. Although Porter works in this department, his appreciation for the company extends to the way Opera Idaho chooses to design their seasons.
“What I love about Opera Idaho is they really provide a season that is accessible and also honors the art of opera,” Porter said. “In terms of accessibility, these performances are presented in a way that truly captures the excitement and the joy of opera, and translates it in a way that first-time people will appreciate.”
For newcomers, opera can seem like another world, but it is the aim of Opera Idaho to make performances a more welcoming environment.
“I feel that opera as an art form is a culmination of everything; we have to do everything,” said Peter Scott Drackley, visiting lead tenor for the company’s upcoming performance of “La Bohème.” “Most of the stories that you see on TV are originally stories that are linked to operatic stories.”
Drackley mentioned that the popular musical-turned-film “Rent” is based on the storyline of “La Bohème.” For Drackley, this connection to popular culture is one reason why newcomers may appreciate an opera performance.
“The reason to go to an opera is, at the very least, everyone should try new things all the time. So, if you haven’t been, how do you know you hate it if you haven’t been?” Drackley said.
Opera Idaho is a unique resource for Treasure Valley residents to enjoy an all-encompassing art form without having to travel long distances. The company gleans the talent of local artists while also bringing in all-star names to dazzle audiences.