The Opera Locos, an opera comedy show originated in Spain, which will perform for the audience a combination of storylines filled with comedy, romance and excitement as part of East Carolina University’s Alexander Series at 7:30 p.m. April 1 in the Wright Auditorium.
Joe O’Curneen, creator and artistic director of The Opera Locos, said this show originated in 1991 when he and a few friends decided they wanted to create a theater company called Yllana.
Yllana was known for physical comedy, and they wanted to create a never before seen show so they created The Opera Locos, O’Curneen said.
“Basically the formula was, let's try and get together the greatest hits of opera of all time and we’ll start from there,” O’Curneen said. “From there we started creating a narrative and some characters.”
An individual ticket to one of the performances in the Alexander Series is $35 but anyone is able to purchase a subscription to all five performances of the series for $100 as part of the “restart the arts” subscription. O’Curneen said the upcoming performance is the group’s first time touring in the United States, and they will be doing shows in North Carolina as well as Florida.
When auditioning, O’Curneen said they were looking for five different voices: soprano, tenor, countertenor, mezzo soprano and baritone. He said they created characters around the theme of love and entertainment.
“This is truly an example of the kind of work we do, so I would recommend that if people do like the show, to check our website and see the other shows that we have and get to know us a little bit,” O’Curneen said.
At most opera shows, the singers do not use microphones, and the background music is played by a live orchestra. However, The Opera Locos do use microphones and their background music is a recorded track, which makes this show different, O’Curneen said.
Daniela Scarabino, production manager of The Opera Locos, said she is in charge of all the international bookings for each show. She said the show is a non-speaking performance and the group is made up of five singers who each must be able to act on stage as well as sing opera and rock-pop music.
“It is hard finding someone very good in classic opera, in rock and be able to play on a stage with some sort of comedy face and a behavior that is very comic, so to say,” Scarabino said.
Since this is a show with no spoken words, Scarabino said, it was born to be international. There are three different productions of The Opera Locos currently performing worldwide at about the same time, one in North Carolina, one in France and another in Mexico.
International bookings for these shows happen about two years in advance, so they are currently booking shows for the 2024 season, Scarabino said. She said the group has been waiting to come to North Carolina for a long time because of cancellations from COVID-19.
“We are really looking forward to coming to North Carolina and it will be a big adventure. I think that it is something very new for you (ECU) and we are sure that you will like it,” Scarabino said.
The songs that are being sung by the performers are songs by extremely well-known artists such as Mozart, O’Curneen said. He said the audience will have the experience of an entire opera performance in an hour and a half.
Mackensie Moore, freshman psychology major, said she has always been interested in live performances and theater so this show sounds like a very interesting experience.
“I think more students on campus should utilize the access they have to these types of shows because it’s not often you get to see an opera performance like this,” Moore said.
Most opera shows are typically very emotional, so the ability to bring in the aspect of comedy is not something people would be expecting, Moore said. She said making the show more entertaining for a younger audience might be helpful when performing in this environment.
Moore said The Opera Locos is something easy and fun to go to with your friends and family that might bring everyone closer together because it will be another life experience everyone will be able to share.
“ECU is such a great place to try and experience new things so going to different shows on campus is something you could tell your friends and family and that may be a good way to spread the word about these shows,” Moore said.
Tickets for The Opera Locos are available on the ECU College of Fine Arts and Communication website.