About two years ago, Arlen learned that his great grandfather was a talented composer, and he left behind a long-lost opera that's never been performed. This opera was his life's work, and it's been passed down from generation to generation in his family. Nobody knows what this antique sheet music sounds like. But that's about to change on Friday, September 18, 2015.
Update: Stretch Goals!
We hit the bare minimum goal that we set, but we're still a ways from putting on the best show we can. The more contributions we can get, the better a job we can do, and the more rewards we can offer!
More about the project
When Arlen cracked open this musical time capsule, he had no idea what to expect. Once he heard a bit of the music for the first time (with just a piano and singers), he knew there was no turning back. He's assembled an awesome team and together they're resurrecting this long-lost opera, 80 years after it was written.
"Andina" is a dark, evocative opera that defies the stereotypes of its genre. It tells the story of a young Colombian mountain girl who is caught between two suitors: one, a wealthy don from the city; the other, a simple local farmhand.
We're going to perform this opera for a one night only concert event Friday, September 18th, at the Athenaeum Theatre, one of Chicago's most historic theaters. And, we're making a documentary movie about the whole adventure from start to finish. We need your help to make this dream a reality.
Where does my donation go?
We're big believers in paying people fairly for their work. That's why we're not asking anyone to work on this project for free. We're all artists and craftspeople, and we believe art has to be sustainable. That means artists have to find a way to make a living doing what they love. Still, we've got tons of costs to cover with this project; theater rental, rehearsal space, materials, advertising, etc.
But we're proud to say that 100% of your donations will be used for paying local artists and craftspeople in Chicago for their hard work on this project. That means your donation goes directly toward paying the singers, the violinists, the costume designer, the lighting technician, the english horn player, and the sound dude.
What kind of donor rewards can I get?
You mean, besides the warm and fuzzy feeling you'll instantly get for supporting the arts? Your rewards can also include buttons, bumper stickers, the opera soundtrack, video of the complete performance, and a behind the scenes documentary film about this entire adventure from start to finish.
Meet the team behind Andina
- The Composer: Eustasio Rosales, born in Bogota, Colombia, was Chicago's first Hispanic composer. He was a musical prodigy, having composed his first overture for orchestra at age 12. During Eustasio's lifetime, his music was performed at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra among other venues in North and South America. When he died of a heart attack on Christmas Day, 1934, his crowning achievement, an opera called Andina, went into a box. It stayed in that box for almost a century. Now, at long last, it's finally getting an opportunity to come to life.
- Our Conductor: Chris Ramaekers, winner of the American Prize in Orchestral Conducting, is currently the principal conductor of the Ravenswood Community Orchestra and Director of Orchestras at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
- Our Cast: Alison Wahl ("Rosa"), Harrah Friedlander ("Ana"), Nathalie Colas ("Inez"), Tobias Wright ("Juan"), Daniel Berry ("Don Carlos")
- Our Music Transcriptionist: Dr. Pablo Santiago Chin is a Costa Rican born composer who has translated the faded and crumbling antique sheet music written in the 1930s into a modern computer score.
- Our Orchestra: The Chicago Composers Orchestra is one of the best regarded ensembles in the Chicago area. The CCO makes a special endeavor to give voice to composers living and creating in Chicago as well as to bring music to Chicago that has not yet been performed there.
- Our Theater: The Athenaeum Theatre was built in 1911 and is the oldest operating theater outside of the Chicago loop. Built by immigrants, the theater stretches 66,000 square feet with a main stage theater of 984 seats (and we have to fill them all!).
- Arlen Parsa (Yeah, that's me). In a nutshell, I'm a documentary filmmaker and website programmer who knows nothing about opera. Or at least, I knew nothing about opera until I found my great grandfather's musical manuscript and started this project two years ago. To me, this project is about completing a legacy, and solving my family's greatest mystery: what does this music sound like? I'm tremendously grateful for the outpouring of support I've received so far on this journey, and I'm never going to forget it.
Risks and challenges
"How is Arlen qualified to put on an opera?"
To be honest, he totally isn't. That's why he's assembled a great team of music and theater professionals to make this thing actually happen.
"Wait, so you've never heard what this music sounds like? And you're going to all this trouble to bring it to life? What if it's terrible?"
Yep. We honestly don't know what this will be like. What we have heard of the music so far makes us pretty excited though. But truthfully, we're taking a giant leap of faith with this project. And we hope you'll join us on this adventure.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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