Codrut Birsan, Music Director of Candid Concert Opera, is the latest artist to take part in our “Five Questions” feature. Candid Concert Opera will make their Chicago debut on May 4 with Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze de Figaro) at Edgebrook Lutheran on Friday, May 4 at 7:00 pm.
Who is Candid Concert Opera?
Candid Concert Opera’s origin is two fold, really. It got its start in Madison, Wisconsin when community members expressed the need for more opera and I happened to know a group of very talented vocal students at UW Madison, jumping at the chance to learn a role. We started as a service based company, providing a relaxed, approachable operatic performance with little to no financial or geographic barriers to the community, additionally providing young emerging talent the chance to learn a role and perform with a chamber orchestra. I am happy to say this remains our mission today. We provide condensed concert settings of operas in an intimate setting, geared toward showcasing young, emerging talent. And, we are happy to be making our Chicago debut on May 4th.
What brings you to Chicago?
I moved to Chicago in April 2011 when my wife, Emily Birsan started her contract with the Lyric Opera Ryan Center. Getting involved in Chicago’s classical music and opera community myself; I realized quickly that there was a place in Chicago for Candid Concert Opera. I was meeting so many young people with a desire to collaborate in many ways. I expected to find talented singers looking for performing and role study opportunities, and did. What I didn’t expect was finding young arts professionals interested in getting involved on the organizational side. Coming to Chicago, I was able to meet and start collaborating with Anne Kraley, Candid Concert Opera’s new General Director. We are very excited to be working together to expand Candid Concert Opera’s reach here in Chicago, as well as in the Midwest region.
How is Candid Concert Opera different?
What first jumps out to audience members is that we do all of our productions in concert and with a narrator. Today, when you go to a traditional opera, there is often a distance, perceived and literal, between the singers on stage and the audience. At Candid Concert Opera, we want to be sure to pull the audience in. The intimate setting brings the audience closer to the singers, and therefore closer to the action and energy of the performance itself. The narration also adds a unique, dramatic element, breaking up slower moving sections and helps the audience more easily relate to the plot and characters. We have found that this “candid” shared experience makes for a more personal and impactful live performance.
What is your favorite opera?
You know, I have to say that my favorite opera is whichever one I am currently working on. So for right now, my favorite is The Marriage of Figaro. We have such a strong cast of young artists, local to Chicago, its incredible. We are very excited to showcase them through this production.
If I could change one thing about Classical Music that would be….
I would want to continue doing exactly what we are doing with my company, break down the stuffiness and distance often associated with opera and the fine arts in general. We are here to help people realize that they really can relate to these stories, told through the vocalists’ powerful, beautiful, candid performance.