PUBLISHED: 11:35 AM on Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Mobile troupe to perform 'Don Giovanni'

Courtesy photo

From left: Dona Anna (Cindee Simpson-Sugar), Don Octavio (Brett Crawford), Don Giovanni (Aaron Elmore), Leporello (David Miller), Dona Elvira (Joyce Parry Moore), Masetto (Travis Vidic) and Zerlina (Rebekka Grimes) in "Don Giovanni," which will be performed at 8 p.m. March 24-25 at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Eight years ago, Joyce Parry Moore performed a program titled "Opera Scenes" under the umbrella of the Juneau Lyric Opera.

That performance, which she likened to choosing items from a take-out menu, was the foundation for Opera to GO! a mobile performing troupe that now offers audiences a feast of musical fare.

"The idea for Opera to GO! began when I was teaching drama at the University (of Southeast Alaska), and we were discussing where commedia and opera began," Parry Moore explained.

"I liked the idea of a flexible, mobile commedia that traveled to different venues and gave a range of performances."

Since its start, Opera to GO! has performed in various venues in Juneau, including the university, Holy Trinity Church and McPhetres Hall, Paradise Bakery, the Juneau Yacht Club and Juneau-Douglas High School.

The group has also traveled to Haines to present "Madame Butterfly," and to Kotzebue to provide vocal training and other workshops.

"We do shows in schools in Juneau and in other communities, from the elementary school level to the university level," said Parry Moore.

"We provide outreach and education in many forms, including performances, classes and workshops."

About 20 people make up the core group of Opera to GO! with everyone pitching in to make performances work.

"This is Juneau, which means that everyone wears a lot of hats," Parry Moore said with a laugh.

Many of these artists will be seen in this weekend's final performance of "Don Giovanni," which will be performed March 24-25 at Juneau-Douglas High School. Directed by New York City's Dyana Kimball and showcasing the talents of Aaron Elmore as Don Giovanni, the opera will be accompanied by a 20-piece orchestra conducted by William Todd Hunt.

"This performance will feature a very diverse cast, ranging from singers who audiences are accustomed to seeing to some not-so-familiar young faces," Moore said. "We are also lucky to have guest artist Art Rotch as our set designer, who worked as the designer at Perseverance Theatre for many years."

Moore said that audiences will appreciate the troupe's rendition of "Don Giovanni," which she calls Mozart's greatest opera.

"This opera functions like a play in that the storyline continues through each of the acts," she said of the opera based on the myth of playboy Don Juan. "And it contains many different styles, from comedy to drama."

Parts of the opera will be sung in English and other parts in Spanish.

"We'll be singing parts of it in English so that the audience can understand the jokes," Moore said. "We'll also be singing parts in Spanish to give the story the appropriate feel."

Spanish professor and dramaturg Rick Ballagh translated parts of the score into that language for the troupe.

"Don Giovanni" ends the performing season for Opera to GO!, though the group does plan to offer an opera class for young people at Juneau Dance Unlimited's Fine Arts Camp this summer. Later in the spring, auditions will be held for the troupe, at which point next year's season will be announced.

"Opera has something for everybody," Moore said of "Don Giovanni," as well as the other operas they perform. "It is a feast for the eyes and ears, it is very accessible, and it is completely inspiring."

Don Giovanni will be performed at 8 p.m. March 24-25 at Juneau-Douglas High School.