Opera Omaha’s “Don Pasquale” stands as an opportunity to recoup and advance the artform – The Omaha News
Omaha News

Opera Omaha’s “Don Pasquale” stands as an opportunity to recoup and advance the artform – The Omaha News

By: Jackson Piercy

OMAHA, Neb. – Opera Omaha begins their 2023-2024 season with two performances of Gaetano Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale”, a comic opera about a curmudgeon and his feud with his cousin. 

As the theatrical industry still recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Opera has slowly, yet steadily, making a comeback. A report by Opera America states that while Opera expenditure against box office returns is much lower than pre-pandemic levels, membership of Opera America in various capacities have nearly tripled in the last three years. 

The performance starred Jorell Williams in his Opera Omaha debut as the titular Don Pasquale. An American Operatic Baritone, Williams has performed in venues as varied as the Lincoln Center in New York City, The Metropolitan Opera, Canadian Opera Company, the Seattle Opera, and many others. Williams finds this show in particular to be an opportunity to load-manage while he performs. 

“One of the challenges for me, in this piece, is to not feel as though I have to do too much, because what I’m providing is just enough,” Williams said. ” The mindset is: This is performance number seven. There’s no nerves. So, if I give one percent, I’m grateful for the audience to be here for one percent. If I give two percent on the next performance, they’re not gonna be prepared for it because they’re so grateful for the extra energy.” 

Opera Omaha’s performance of “Don Pasquale” taking place at the Orpheum Theater located at Omaha, NE. (Photo/Jackson Piercy)

Miles Mykkanen, playing Ernersto in Don Pasquale, found that there is more to Opera than just singing elongated notes in costume on a stage, written by people who lived over two hundred years ago. 

“Human beings haven’t changed,” Mykkanen said. “We still have the same emotions: love is love, and hatred, and being upset. We felt those five hundred years ago, two hundred years ago. The world around us changes, but the operas still remind us that we’re still human beings. feeling the same things that we felt a few hundred years ago, and now we’re in Omaha, delivering those same emotions over one hundred and eighty years later.” 

Jorell Williams and Luis Alejandro Orozco rehearsing their roles at the Orpheum Theatre located at Omaha, NE, plotting their revenge in scene. (Photo/Jackson Piercy)

In all, Omaha’s finest have came together to tell this story and many others over the course of their 2023-2024 season. Williams says that the work being done in the Orpheum is some of the best he’s ever done. 

“I think we have assembled a world-class group of artists, and a team that really wants to share this story in a different way than its been told since it was written,” Williams said. “I think we have a chance to do that here. If, when I look back on my career, I think about the question marks of ‘Why did you only do this role once?’ or ‘Why did you do it ten times after you said you were only going to do it once?’, this could be a marker of a milestone for me and my colleagues.” 

Opera Omaha’s remaining 2023-24 season includes two performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” on February 16th and 18th in 2024, and Gabriela Lena Frank’s “El último sueño de Frida y Diego” on May 3rd and 5th in 2024. 

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