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‘What’s Opera, Duck?’ kicks off Moores performances


The Moores Opera Center is opening its 2017-2018 season with a cabaret show at the Mucky Duck bar. | Courtesy of Moores School of Music

In between sips, bites, giggles and admiration, McGonigel’s Mucky Duck bar-goers will enjoy the already-traditional “What’s Opera, Duck?” cabaret event performed by more than 20 University of Houston Moores Opera Center students.

Undergraduate seniors and graduate students who are over 21 will participate in this program for the the ninth consecutive year at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“It is a good way of dipping your toe into the world of opera,” said Laura Bleakley, third-year doctoral student who will be a pianist in the production. “It might be a little intimidating to think of going to a four-hour opera versus just being able to go to a bar and listen to good music.”

The annual celebration is the opening performance of the season and has been taking place in September for quite a while, said Moores Opera Center Director Buck Ross.

“It gives us a chance to showcase the people that are going to be starring in productions later that year, and it gives people an opportunity to see everybody in a less formal environment,” Ross said.

With different students participating every year, the program changes between seasons, Ross said.

“This is my first real performance here, so I am actually excited to perform with my colleagues and have a fun night,” said Jason Zacher, first-year graduate student of vocal performance who will sing “Agony” by Into the Woods with Chaz Corder.

Second-year vocal performance graduate student Katherine DeYoung participated in the program last year.

“What was so cool about it is that it is a very cabaret-style performance, so you are really up close with the audience, and it allows you to interact with them, and also for the audience to interact with you,” DeYoung said.

This tradition originated as a result of a financial need, Ross said.

“It actually started because in 2008 when the economy crashed,” Ross said. “Our endowment was paying off no money at all, and we had to find ways to raise money. This was a way for us to do that.”

During the first year of its production, the program was performed three or four times, but Ross said it was more than they could handle, so they cut back to just one.

“If you have never been introduced to opera musical theater or that type of cabaret-style concert, that is probably the best kind of event to go to the first time because it is a chill environment. People are very open,” said Kaarin Phelps, a first-year graduate student a who will be singing “Cruda Sorte” by L’Italiana in Algeri.

Students over 21 years-old, faculty and staff can purchase their tickets here.

“I think there is this kind of stigma that thinking classical music is…a very high-brow art,” Bleakley said. “So I think Mucky Duck is a good way of showing that classical musicians can relax and have a good time just like everybody else.”

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