by Madeline Darigan '22, Staff Writer
Grand theaters, melodramatic sopranos, horned Viking helmets, and audiences as ancient as the art itself are the eternal archetypes of opera. Here in Southern Maine, young artists cast off this reputation and are bringing a new voice to classical performance.
For Portland-based soprano and voice teacher Shaunna Lucas, this means creating her own opportunities.
“I find it really relevant today as musical theater is relevant… It’s telling a story. Regardless of when it was made, we can look at the most ancient stories and plays… and find value in it and find how it pertains to modern day,” Guerra said.
Guerra currently serves as co-coordinator of Opera Maine’s Teen program, which aims to educate and provide opportunities for teens interested in a music career or who want to learn more about opera. She intends to pursue a vocal performance degree in college.
Letellier acknowledged how the language barrier and dated character stereotypes often present are reasons people have often found difficulty connecting to opera.
She cited how the various languages each have their distinct style of opera while English never fully developed. Instead, English-speakers orchestrated another genre entirely - musical theater.
“At its core it’s storytelling in just such a beautiful and artistic way...Opera, I feel, provides the opportunity to share emotion beyond words,” Guerra said.
Letellier shares Guerra’s passion for traditional operatic works, and has also welcomed modern modern productions with open arms. Along with new music comes more contemporary themes and greater representation in opera. She hopes it opens a door to more diverse audiences - common people, not the aristocratic reputation that has been made.
For all these artists, one phrase resounded: “Opera is for everyone.”