The Evolution of OperaLesque

Alpine Theatre Project’s show featuring opera, burlesque and aerial acts will have another run Aug. 23-25

By Molly Priddy
Marcy Richardson, The Singing Aerialist - the OperaLesque star has performed with New York City Opera, Opera Columbus, and the acclaimed burlesque variety troupe, Company XIV

When it comes to putting on a production, the people at the Alpine Theatre Project want to keep the audience on their toes and in rapt attention.

That’s why when ATP hosts an opera performance, it’s actually a mix of opera, the tantalizing art of burlesque, and some aerial circus acts thrown in. All together, you get OperaLesque, a relatively new offering from ATP that runs this year from Aug. 23-25 in Whitefish.

This is the second OperaLesque performance this year, with the inaugural performance held in February as a Valentine’s Day treat in ATP’s new space, The Garage. The performances sold out quickly, said Luke Walrath of ATP, and the second round of performances happened because the artists had such a good time the first time.

“It was actually the artists themselves who wanted to do it again,” Walrath said. “All of their schedules were open for one week in August and they said, ‘We want to come back out.’ They hadn’t done anything like it before.”

OperaLesque was the brainchild of ATP artistic director Betsi Morrison, who wanted to do something special during the final weeks of winter. When she researched adding opera to aerial and burlesque performances, she learned it was a burgeoning art form in major cities and possible to do here.

The first run of shows in February had one show during which the burlesque performers would take everything off, and Walrath said that show was the most popular. So for the upcoming run, all shows are like that, adults only, with nudity.

“Last time around we had some regular shows and then we had the pasties-off late-night show,” Walrath said. “Everybody wanted to go to that. So this time, all three shows are at 9; we wanted to make it a little bit later to give it more of a late-night vibe.”

The show features some of the nation’s greatest opera singers, coming from the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera companies.
Performers include Marcy Richardson, the Singing Aerialist, who works with Company XIV and won the 2018 Dora Award for Outstanding Performance in Opera; Glenn Seven Allen, a tenor with the New York City Opera; Melanie Long, a mezzo-soprano with the New York City Opera and member of acclaimed burlesque troupe the Hot Box Girls; Sharin Apostolou, performer with the New York City, Utah, Central City, and Delaware operas; Jorrell Williams, a baritone with the Metropolitan Opera and soloist at the Lincoln Center Orchestra; and Billy Thompson on piano.

The setup for the performance is different this time too, with two runways forming an X of stage space in the room, and a pole in the middle for Richardson’s pole dancing. Everything will be decorated with a circus theme in mind.

“It’ll be interesting because it is the same singers, the same artists, but a completely different set,” Walrath said. “The whole thing is going to have this circus-sideshow-midway feel.”

The room’s setup means the show will be happening in front of, above, and all around the audience, Walrath said. The space only has room for 60 audience members, and ATP is selling tickets in tables of four, two, and single. Cocktails will also be available.

And the shows are selling fast — as of Aug. 19, there were only two tickets left for the Saturday evening performance.

Walrath said the enthusiastic response to the first OperaLesque performances indicates that these shows will be met with the same thunderous applause.

“All three show are no holds barred,” he said. “If we’re going to do (a performance) again, we need to change it up so we’re not remounting the same show. This is going to be a little spicier.”

Tickets are $45 per person, $130 for a table for two, and $260 for a table for four. Tables include table service and other refreshments. For more information, visit www.atpwhitefish.org or call (406) 862-7469.

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