An Interview with Robin Stamper of Opera Tampa

  1. What do you do as the Artistic and Managing Director of Opera Tampa and why do you think it’s important for audiences to see Opera?

My main responsibility is to ensure the highest quality possible for all of Opera Tampa’s public performances.

I choose Opera Tampa’s repertoire, the artists themselves, and work with the amazing Straz Center staff in all other aspects of our productions.

I conduct, coach our Opera Tampa singers, prepare the choruses and, when needed, serve as the pianist for all of our non-mainstage performances.

  1. What do you think audiences can look forward to seeing at Opera Tampa this season?

We produce three ‘main stage’ performances in our Ferguson Hall which encompass three totally different styles of opera:

  1. Norma, by Bellini (February 10 and 12) showcases a style referred to as bel canto.  Along with a highly dramatic tale of love, infidelity and sacrifice, Norma showcases the most extreme possibilities of the operatic voice along with some of the most gut-wrenching beautiful melodies in all of opera.
  2. Pagliacci, by Leoncavallo, provides the spectacle of a show within a show.  The iconic ‘Vesti la guibba’ (or ‘Put on your Costume’) is one of the most emotionally powerful and recognizable tenor arias of all time.
  3. Sweeney Todd, often performed as an opera with opera singers, show’s off Stephen Sondheim’s brilliantly witty lyrics, incredibly descriptive music and humorously grotesque plot.
  4. We also produce three different offerings that showcase our Opera Tampa Singers (talent found in the Tampa Bay area as well as Orlando):
    1. Spanish Nights; in honor of Hispanic Heritage month (TECO theater, September 30 and October 1).
    2. The Witching Hour; our zany Halloween show (The Riverwalk Stage, October 28 and 29).
    3. OUTloud; created to celebrate Tampa Pride (June 2).
  1. You are the Musical Director and Conductor of Spanish Nights, tell us about your creative process and what you are looking forward to sharing with audiences?
  1. Chronologically, the process begins with the selection of repertoire and the creation of a plot by codirectors Melissa Misener and Alix Faulhaber.
  2. The ‘look’ of the show is planned and built by way the talents of members of the Straz production team as well as our costume designer, Daly Hiraldo Morales
  3. The work of the performers begins with our dancers practicing their choreography and with musical coachings with myself and individual singers.
  4. Then the ‘staging process’ begins where our codirectors guide the movement and dramatic aspects of the production.
  5. Lastly we have our technical and dress rehearsals in the lead up to the performances. This is where we rehearse on the actual set of the show with full lighting and costumes.  At is at this point we also add our talented percussionist Kelsey Bannon.

We look forward to sharing with our audience the great joy we experience with this repertoire, which traverses through a field of repertoire which is joyful, humorous, dramatic and often meltingly beautiful.

  1. Can you tell us about Spanish Nights and the multicultural cast?

Spanish Nights is a staged ‘review’ that includes a wide variety of Spanish language music from various countries, including Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico as well as quite a few selections from famous Zarzuelas.

Our cast of singers include performers from countries such as Venezuela, Spain, Mexico and Columbia.

We also feature very talented dancers who’s skills are interwoven into the plot.

We are thrilled to have engaged our choreographer and principal dancer, Carolina Esparza; a member of the Tampa Bay Flamenco Dance Company.

  1. Is Spanish Nights an original production? What can audiences look forward to seeing and hearing that is unique? Can you tell us about that?

While we offer Spanish Nights as a title each season, each version is different.

Some of the most well received musical selections from prior productions are featured.  But this season we also include selections new to our audience from an even greater variety of countries.

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