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Kentucky Opera redefining a night at the performances

The opera might not be what you're expecting, which is exactly what the director is hoping for

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When you think of opera, you might imagine the robust woman with a horned helmet, bellowing from the depths of who knows where. Maybe it seems like opera is only for fancy rich people, or older people.

The Kentucky Opera, one of the county's longest standing opera groups, is working against what you might think the opera is to show just how accessible performances can be.

General Director and CEO of Kentucky Opera Barbara Lynne Jamison didn't set out to be an opera singer, but the work she's already done in her four years in the commonwealth shows she was destined for this career.

"The arts here offer an opportunity to come together and be community together," Jamison said.  "It's really special we can do that through Actors Theatre, Louisville Ballet, Louisville Orchestra and Kentucky Opera."

Jamison says that every opera is different and every production is different.

"You might have seen one opera production but like hearing a remake of a 'Beatles' tune, it's not always 'The Beatles' anymore even though it's a remake," she said.

Jamison, an accomplished performer, worked with several organizations before moving to Louisville.  She says she is excited to expand accessibility to the opera in a post-pandemic community. 

"We really take care to make sure the people on the stage represent our community and that were showing diversity," Jamison said.  "Youthful people, people of color... so we can all identify to that character.  That's when we both receive a message or receive a story and a meaning of a story." 

Kentucky's performing arts scene and creative industries contribute $4.9 billion dollars annually to the state economy, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. 

In an everchanging landscape of cellphones and streaming, getting people to visit the opera is no easy task. 

With tickets starting at around $40 for each of this year's four performances, the group is hoping people who are ready to experience opera for the first time give it a try. 

"I don't think we as audience members realize how much we influence what's happening on the stage," Jamison said.  "The timing, it's so important that the audience realize that we make so much of a difference." 

"I think it's really important to remember that we are experiencing a moment in time that will never be repeated, its not like a movie you can watch again or a book you can pick up a few years later." 

As the Kentucky Opera prepares for its 70th season, they're celebrating their new administrative home on Magazine Street.  They'll perform a holiday production of 'The Gift of Magi,' so be on the lookout for tickets. 

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