Local talents to sing in Mostly Opera’s ‘A French Pastry’

First Posted: 4/18/2014

To local singer Abigail Zieger, opera is more than just a form of entertainment. It’s an experience and a journey.

“I…love that opera has musical depth,” she said via e-mail. “You do not tire of a piece the more you hear it. Rather, it offers more to the listener each time he returns to it. There’s always something new, exciting or moving to observe in the music.”

The busy 28-year-old Factoryville resident is a stay-at-home mom to her two children, James, 3, and Verity, 10 months. She also works part-time at the Scranton Music Academy and volunteers her voice with local professional music group Mostly Opera.

Zieger said she began singing with Mostly Opera about three years ago, when she learned of the group and decided it was “a great opportunity to develop professionally, learn from other singers and to expand my own performance repertoire.”

The mezzo-soprano will perform in Mostly Opera’s upcoming production, “A French Pastry,” as Charlotte in Act III of Jules Massenet’s “Werther,” along with Dennis Fanucci and Sarah Houck. The event, which will feature a smorgasbord of scenes from various French operas, is to be held April 27 at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Scranton, at 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 for general admission or $8 for students, and can be obtained by calling 570-207-8410.

The venue, although new to the group, is an appropriate setting for the event, according to Mostly Opera Executive Director Helene Tinsley.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” she said. “It looks like French opera belongs in it.”

In addition to the “Werther” scene, “A French Pastry” also includes excerpts from “Romeo & Juliette,” “Faust,” “Le Fille du Regiment,” “Samson and Delilah,” “The Pearlfishers” and “Carmen.”

Singers include Zieger, Fanucci, Houck, Nicole and Dale Rideout, Chuck Unice, Erik Sparks, Julie Ziavras, Ellen Ruthowski, Gary Richards, Cantor Marshall Wolkenstein and Barbara Liberasky-Nowicki.

“Mostly Opera is full of varied and delightful talents,” said Zieger, “including educators, local area performers, and professional singers who have traveled far and wide to sing operas. Each and every voice has something unique to offer to the audience.”

Tinsley has the same respect for the Mostly Opera singers, describing them as “all professional voices from NEPA” who “donate their time and talent.”

Tinsley also has a role in “French Pastry” as narrator. She said since many people don’t attend opera because it’s in a foreign language they don’t understand, Mostly Opera attempts to help the audience immerse into the emotion and beauty of the music.

“We try to explain what the opera is about,” she said.

It is this same beauty that Zieger enjoys most about singing opera.

“Opera showcases the human voice as an instrument in its greatest capacities,” she said. “It is challenging, invigorating and rewarding to learn a difficult piece of music and try to make it communicative and beautiful.”

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