“We’re trying to get the most visual bang for the smallest spatial buck,” says Alan Schneider, one of the artists behind PanOpera. He’s standing beside a tall, narrow steel scaffold which serves as the multipurpose set for the group’s premiere production, Puccini’s Tosca. “We’re making a virtue of necessity here,” he explains.
In next week’s semi-staged performances in Brattleboro and Northampton, the stages will be almost fully occupied by a 70-piece orchestra and chorus. The “visual bang” also includes projected images by designer Adrian Eames and supertitles that replace a literal translation of the Italian libretto with “short expository statements explaining the character’s situation, intentions, thoughts and so forth. Going to the theater to read the libretto isn’t very theatrical,” Schneider adds.
A central tenet of PanOpera’s mission is not only music-making but community-building, collaborating with choruses and orchestras around the region to muster the resources to mount a full-scale opera. In this production, Schneider plays the revolutionary artist Cavaradossi, the operatic diva La Tosca is sung by soprano Jenna Rae, and Hugh Keelan conducts the Windham Orchestra.
June 1, 2 p.m., Latchis Theater, Brattleboro, brattleborotix.com; June 5, 7:30 p.m., Academy of Music, 274 Main St., Northampton, academyofmusictheatre.com. For info and premium seating email firstname.lastname@example.org.