Opera performers inspire a younger generation with an age old art form

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Frida Kahlo was an influential Mexican artist who heavily inspired Mexican pop culture and opened a dialogue about identity, gender, class and race in the 1930s. Her life will be portrayed in an upcoming production presented by the Anchorage Opera.

The Anchorage Opera is presenting Frida by Robert Xavier Rodriguez. It's a documentary style production that's described as a hybrid of opera and musical theater. It's just one of the ways opera is evolving and aiming to keep youth interested and inspired.

"It's really about telling them telling them what opera is, getting them excited about this art form that is getting lost. We're losing more and more lovers of opera. It's very sad, really," said Catalina Cuervo, playing the role of Frida. "So what opera houses all over the world are doing is really encouraging their artists and encouraging situations like this one in which we go talk to the kids, tell them what operas are so they don't feel that operas are for old people only."

Today Cuervo and Bernardo Bermudez, playing the role of Diego Rivera, gave students at Service High School a preview. Together they performed some of the songs they'll be singing for the production. However, it was also about opening the conversation about opera in general, in an effort to get students excited about the age old art form.

"It really is a wonderful example of where the genre of opera is headed, in that it's not just Italian grand opera," said Judy Berry, Marketing and Development Director for the Anchorage Opera. "It's telling real stories about real people that all ages can relate to that's stretching the idiom of the art form."

It's an effort to break the mold of traditional opera, and give young people something to relate to.

"It's ever changing and it's revolutionary to see where we're going with the opera and the arts and we need to bring it to the forefront, and make sure that it's approachable, show people that it's approachable," said Bermudez. "These stories are real. A lot of them are true. They're about real people."

And in this case, using the story Frida Kahlo to inspire kids to be whoever they want to be.

"I hope to see all of these kids in the opera just going and at age. We just want to continue this legacy and be able for this art form to never die. That's what we want."

The performance is running February 14, 15 and 16 at the Sydney Laurence Theatre at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. The production will be performed in both Spanish and English with English subtitles. For tickets, you can call (907) 263-ARTS or visit the Anchorage Opera's website.

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