One of St. Petersburg Opera Company’s more informal concert performances takes place Saturday at 8 p.m. at Opera Central, 2145 1st Avenue S.
It’s “Broadway Cabaret,” in which the cast of the opera currently in rehearsal – in this case, it’s Donzinetti’s La fille du Regiment – literally let their hair down and sing their favorites from the world of musical theater.
“It’s an opportunity for us to break out of our classical shell and do something a little bit different,” points out lyric coloratura soprano Kelly Curtin, who’ll sing the lead role in La fille, June 3, 5 and 7 at the Palladium.
“A lot of us really enjoy doing musical theater, but our vocal techniques are better suited to opera. It’s a chance for us to play around with the other aspects of our voice and use a little bit more chest voice. And belt a little bit.
“And also sing in English.”
The Donzinetti opera will be performed in French (with English dialogue). With Saturday’s cabaret show, “Everybody’s just having fun! It’s so much lower pressure than the full opera productions.”
Curtin, who last appeared with St. Pete Opera as Despina in the 2021 SPO production of Cosi fan tutte, has been working with the company since 2017 (Les Contes d’Hoffmann). Like most of the singers who perform semi-regularly with regional opera companies, she is a professional contract player – she doesn’t live here, but travels all over the country, and across the globe, to accept the best roles offered.
The native of Wilmington, Delaware began visiting the bay area as a child – her sister attended the University of Tampa, and no one in the family was about to turn down a Florida vacation.
Combine that with the “family atmosphere” of St. Pete Opera, she explains, and coming here to perform has become one of her favorite things to do.
At Saturday’s “Broadway Cabaret,” she’ll be joined by most of the La fille principals, and members of the ensemble, for solos, duets and more – songs from Sondheim, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lloyd Webber, Lerner & Lowe and others.
It’s not as much of a stretch as you might think. “Most of us got into singing, or into acting, which then led us to the opera world, through musical theater,” Curtin says. “Most of us started with that when we were in high school and whatnot.
“My original thought was that I would take voice lessons so that I could sing musical theater. And as my voice developed, it made for sense for me to do opera. But I still love musical theater.”
While she has been performing the best-known arias from La fille du Regiment since her grad school days, Curtin has never acted and sung in the complete, staged production.
She was signed for the role in 2020, when St. Pete Opera originally intended to produce the Donzinetti comic opera.
“There was a time there where I wasn’t sure if we were ever going to do it, because it seemed like the pandemic was unending,” she recalls. “There was a hole of depression there for a while – ‘Am I ever gonna perform again? Not just this, but anything?’
“But it did give me a lot more time to kind of re-think and re-work cadenzas, and where I’d like to ornament, and really think about the character. And really just get more and more solid with it.
“So it’s been kind of a luxury to have this much time to learn and work on the role. Usually I have to cram it into my brain as fast as I can.”
“Broadway Cabaret” tickets here
La fille du Regiment tickets here