Burlesque meets opera: OperaTease OperaTease, Journey North Opera, 2019. Photo: Sara Erdman.

Burlesque meets opera: OperaTease

Callie Cooper

On Saturday evening, the Twin Cities newest opera company, Journey North Opera , had their second OperaTease cabaret night. The show was held at the Minnsky Theater in Northeast Minneapolis, a theater/pole dancing fitness studio dedicated to the art of neo-burlesque and continuing the vaudeville tradition. The emcees for the night were JNO Artistic Director Colleen Meier, and comedian TifDynamite.

OperaTease, Journey North Opera, 2019. Photo: Sara Erdman.

The goal of the event was to expose the regulars of each genre to the other art form. I would personally say this was a successful night because I am very intrigued by what my local burlesque theater has to offer. Additionally, it was a great education for the emcees to explain the history of burlesque in between arias.

OperaTease, Journey North Opera, 2019. Photo: Sara Erdman.

The event was marketed as an “opera improv cabaret,” and while all of the acts had consummate performers on stage, I thought it should have been less improv-driven. After the resounding success of the first event in the summer, JNO and the Minnsky have more shows booked and I am sure in future shows there will be more cohesion.

The program has 10 acts, each composed of an opera singer and a burlesque performer. There were highlights of the night: the incestuous love duet from Wagner’s Die Walküre was sung by Colleen Meier and Adam Lowe. Emcee TiffDynamite stepped up to provide comedic antics to stop the brother and sister from kissing.

OperaTease, Journey North Opera, 2019. Photo: Sara Erdman.

I longed for more of this full integration of the two art forms, the burlesque and opera were truly crossing paths in this entertaining act.

Some of the arias selected were two short for the audience to fully take in, and appreciate the burlesque performers’ crafts. For example, “O mio babbino caro” is extremely short (under three minutes) and that barely gave pole dancer Red Rider a chance to exhibit her skills.

In an impressive feat of the night, soprano Carole Schultz sang “Je veux vivre” (Roméo et Juliette) on point - literally, in a pair of pointe shoes, which she would go up on for the high notes.

OperaTease, Journey North Opera, 2019. Photo: Sara Erdman.

Margaret Matejcek was originally only billed for one act of the night, but stepped in with sophistication for an ill colleague. The final act of the night was a rousing rendition of “Una voce poco fa”, sung by mezzo-soprano Melissa Krueger.

As always, I am encouraged and excited by the new takes on classical singing the Twin Cities has to offer, and OperaTease is no exception.

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