AREA – When the Light Opera of New Jersey’s (LONJ) audiences were bursting at the seams in their last venue, conductor Jason Tramm started scouting around for a bigger auditorium. He found the perfect spot at Rahway’s historic theater Union County Performing Arts (UCPAC) where, on Saturday, February 17, at 7:30 p.m., they will present Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” Mr. Tramm explained his delight with the historic theater that is unmatched for opera performances. “Many venues are perfect in size but might not have the acoustic structure. The space in Rahway is reflective so that sound fills the multilevel auditorium beautifully. It’s also located in an ideal spot in Union County.”
If you think opera can’t be funny, you haven’t seen this one, he quips. “It’s by far the funniest of all operas,” Mr. Tramm said in the phone interview with The Westfield Leader and Union County Hawk. “Everything holds up in this production – it’s the complete package,” he enthused. From gorgeous sets and costumes to award-winning vocalists and instrumentalists, this production has it all. And he might know a thing or two about the piece since he has conducted it more than 25 times. He recently conducted it in South Carolina and in early February at a venue in Florida. Asked if he gets tired of the same music, the same characters, and the same storyline, he countered with, “It’s a pleasure to conduct it. Every performance is different because the vocalists and instrumentalists make it their own.” He is especially excited about bringing first-rate talent to Union County. “I think the audience will be amazed at the talent we’ve assembled for this production. We will be introducing a brother and sister who are upcoming world-class superstars.”
He’s thrilled about securing the UCPAC venue for several reasons. First, he’s proud to bring such highquality music to Union County at affordable prices. He’s interested in making opera accessible for all. “The arts are for everybody,” he shared. “We want to take down barriers for seeing music of this caliber at one’s doorstep.” Next, he feels it is the perfect opera to introduce a general audience to the art form. This opera has all the elements of a great story with bribery, deception, and, of course, disguise. The opera boasts memorable arias and captivating music that melts humor and romance. Based on a French play from 1775, Rossini’s work was first performed in February of 1816. It is a comedy in the classic example of the buffa genre characterized by everyday settings, local dialects, and simple vocal writing. The main requirement is clear diction and facility with patter. Mr. Tramm, a former music teacher at Summit High School, said people unfamiliar with this opera should think of Gilbert and Sullivan’s work with lyrics and tempo that, at times, get increasingly faster for comic effect.
Their Sunday, February 18 afternoon production at the Sieminski Theater in Basking Ridge is sold out, but tickets are still available for the 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 17 presentation at UCPAC. For tickets that start at $25 for students, and range to $65, visit the website of UCPAC.org or call (908) 903-0700. To purchase accessible seating, call UCPAC’s Box Office at (732) 499-8226.