An Opera For "Wanna-Bees" This Weekend at MI Covenant Church

A comedic opera performance designed to attract a new crowd of opera lovers performs this weekend at Mercer Island Covenant Church.

This opera company provides an outlet for the “wanna-bees”, “gonna-bees” “has-beens” and “never-a-chance-in hells.”  

They are the  Company and they are performing Opera and Operetta Scenes in two performances this weekend (8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26 & 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28) at the .

“The vocalists range from age 8-71 years of age,” said Lucinda Maxey, of the 20-member opera company. The performances are designed to be beautiful and funny and attract a new crowd to opera.

Renton resident Maxey has won several vocal competitions during her 20s, and trained at Cornish College of the Arts. Maxey went on to sing in Europe, Scotland, Norway and all over the United States.  

Maxey's interest in music spans from Wagner to Mahler to Strauss, but she also enjoys performing in nightclubs and singing every type of musical genre.

The director, Tim Campbell, from Spokane, was so impressed with the opera company mission that he started his own, called Northwest Opera Works, there.

Campbell, originally from Missoula, Mont., has appeared in more than 30 musicals and more than 30 operas, including The Barber of Seville, La Bohéme, and The Face on the Barroom Floor. Campbell currently teaches private voice for both St. George's School and Holy Names Music Center in Spokane.

This weekend’s production includes scenes from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Tit Willow, Tripping Hither Tripping Thither, and the comedic Beauty in the Bellow of the Blast. The performance will close withThe Sound of Music’s "So Long, Farewell," in a group performance that will include 8-year old Lena Hou from Renton.

The idea for the Fat Chance Opera was born when there were a number of up-and-coming local singers that wanted to perform but had no outlet, Maxey said. Most of the costumes and sets are donated. 

“We take the artists in the space they are in,” Maxey said of the performers, in describing their range of talent. “We want to attract the local community and local singers and give them an artistic space to perform.”

Evelyn Hou, from , is a local Renton Chamber of Commerce member who tipped Patch off to the production. Her 8-year old daughter, Lena, is one of the singers.

“I watched their previous production, and it was funny ... Never thought I would enjoy opera,” she said.

Lena Hou will open the production, and then also close with the group singing, “So Long, Farewell.” The youngster has had fun with her experience, and via email from her mom, said, "Singing is fun, and I love to sing.”

Hou attended the dress rehearsal, which went late on Wednesday evening, and was impressed.

“It is quite different to see the rehearsal and how much work goes into a production,” Hou said. “The artists practiced very hard, and Tim diligently took notes to share with everyone on how to improve the interpretation of a song.” She was impressed with the commitment from the artists from various walks of life who share a love of singing.

“We really hope that people find our production beautiful and funny, and want to come out next time,” Maxey said.

The $10 suggested donation proceeds go to the LaStella Foundation, a nonprofit organization that assists local artists.

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