Outstanding Opera

A lot of people have made up their minds about opera — they just don’t think they like it. Well, maybe they actually do like it, but they’ve never realized they were listening to it. Classical music shows pop up where you least expect it — older cartoons, commercials, television, movies — it’s so engrained in the musical landscape people don’t know they’ve heard it, yet it sounds so familiar. And maybe, just maybe, people like opera better than they originally thought.
To expand on all of that, Golden Entertainment and Murphy Broadcasting present “Tenors, Baritones and Sopranos — A Night At The Opera,” a program that takes the best opera has to offer, then “going outside the box” to pair it with a few surprises for an unexpected evening filled with variety and beautiful music.
The show takes place in the Edgewater’s E Center, on Saturday, Oct. 12 (7 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m.).
The program stems from Rick Murphy’s lifelong love of opera and his idea of giving the community the opportunity to experience the music for themselves, offering them a taste of some of the best opera music in the world.
“There will be some surprises, I’m sure, between now and the grand finale of the show,” he said.
“The show was something I’ve wanted to do for many, many years,” he added. “About 15 or 16 years ago, I did a version of it at the Ramada Express when my wife, Susan, was the general manager and president there. She gave me the freedom to run an experiment and it turned out to be very successful. People loved it.
“Opera is wonderful, unless you have to sit through four hours of it, just to get to the 12 minutes of the arias that are achingly beautiful,” he explained. “But what I did was take the parts out of the opera that would just kill me, where I’m bored to tears, and I made sure it’s one after the other of two- or three-minute arias. It’s the best of Giacomo Puccini, Verdi, then I threw in some contemporary stuff that people would know.”
A taste of songs to be performed include “Rhapsody in Blue” (George Gershwin); a duet from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera; “The Prayer;” Les Miserables’ “I Dreamed a Dream;” Giacomo Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” from his opera, Gianni Schicchi; Giuseppe Verdi’s “Brindisi,” a.k.a. “The Drinking Song” from La Traviata; the Irish ballad “Danny Boy;” and so much more.
Experience the world’s best and most beloved arias from La Boheme, Phantom of the Opera, Madame Butterfly, Tosca, La Traviata and Les Miserables. Be a part of a romantic evening of some of the most beautiful music of all time from the most popular operas ever written, delivered one aria after another.
“By the way, a lot of that opera stuff people would know — ‘Clair de Lune,’ and all these different tunes that will be performed, like Tchaikovsky’s ‘Piano Concerto No. 1,’ you’ve heard them in cartoons or you’ve heard them in commercials all your life. United Airlines used a lot of classical music in their commercials. So it will be familiar to a lot of people. “But to make it tolerable for people — for those of us who are unwashed — I’ve thrown in two pieces from Phantom of the Opera, and then some stuff from Les Miserables.”
There’s also Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams,” and a Queen medley.
“I added ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,'” Murphy said. “It’s not considered ‘opera’ by opera snobs, but I say it is.”
His reasoning for combining opera and rock music is because it brings back childhood memories for Murphy.
“I’ve always loved opera my whole life,” he said. “My mother introduced me to it — she was only 15 years older than me, so we grew up together and we listened to the Rolling Stones, and Puccini, you know?
“It was a weird combination, but it worked and she taught me when I was very young about it, and I had this intense need to hear more of it from time to time,” he explained.
“I’m willing to go sit in the opera for the four hours of La Boheme to get the four arias that are in there. Susan loves them too, but the rest of it bores her, so what I do is I get two tickets, I’ll go to the opera, sit through it, call her when it’s time for the arias,” he laughed.
He said coming up with the right blend of music for this upcoming show was as important as the songs themselves.
“We spent a lot of time on the flow of the music, going back and forth between contemporary to the standard opera,” he said. “Then the people who are performing the music were important, too. They are from Los Angeles, they’ve all performed in most of the major theaters and opera houses in Southern California as well as in the Midwest.
“For example Marisa Buchheit, she’s Miss Illinois 2014, she’s just a lovely woman with a beautiful voice. Then we’ve got a gal who’s doing a violin concerto in D, and she’s really something. I wanted to have a couple of music-only pieces in there. I call what she’s doing the rock and roll of violin music with classical styling.”
How many performers in the show altogether?
“There will be one tenor, one baritone, two sopranos, the violinist, three more strings, the conductor, the maestro, and Bob Gulley makes 10,” he said.
Gulley is a well-known area musician who has performed in several different configurations of groups, and he has toured with Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers.
“Bob Gulley is going to do ‘Cara Mia,’ the song made famous by Jay and the Americans. It’s very much the operatic style and he’s going to do it just like Jay Black did and it’s fantastic.
‘O Sole Mio’ is an Italian opera song, but Elvis Presley came along and took the melody and did ‘It’s Now or Never.’ So we’re working on them, doing it ‘in the round’ where every other verse is ‘O Sole Mio,’ then ‘It’s Now or Never,’ to show people they’ve been listening to opera and didn’t even know it.
“My goal is to bring in people who have never heard opera or would say to you, ‘I hate opera,’ ” Murphy said. “My question is, ‘do you hate rock and roll?’ Well, no, you don’t, but do you like every single piece of rock and roll? No, you don’t.
“There’s some really horrible opera music out there, and there’s horrible rock and roll, too,” he added. “So I’m just giving them the very best of opera.
“When we did it before, I had grown men who are auto mechanics in tears. It’s lovely, achingly beautiful music,” he said. “It just knocks you out.
“Hugo Castillo, who is the one that helped me put this group together, is forming his own group to go on the road, which is why I encouraged him to call the group Qu4tro! — which includes himself, Buchheit, Benjamin Czarnota and Julia Lima,” Murphy added. “This project was kind of an incubator for him and his group, which I’m really proud of them and pleased that he’s going to do that.”
It is these performers who will be delivering on Murphy’s goal to bring out emotion in every audience member who experiences this show.
“Every aria that will be played, you will have heard it at one time or another in your life. You’ll go, ‘Of course, I know that,’ ” he said. “I guarantee, if you’ve got a soul, I’ll get tears out of you.
“Once I get the movement going, we have a really big surprise as far as the encore. That is the biggest and best there is — it’s fantastic.”
One of the biggest surprises of the show is special guest star, Emanne Beasha. The 11-year-old opera singer blew the judges away on Season 14 of “America’s Got Talent,” with her amazing performance of “Nessun Dorma.” She received the Golden Buzzer from Jay Leno for her version of “Caruso” and she became a Top 10 finalist. The Laughlin show will mark her debut as an opera concert singer.


E Center at the Edgewater

Saturday, Oct. 12 (7 p.m.)

See “Showtimes” for ticket info