Singing 'Welcome, Sweet Springtime'
"We greet thee in song" is the second half of the refrain in that familiar — if rather outdated — ballad. If you know the song, you are definitely living in the proper place: a senior retirement community! However, at Freedom Plaza we do, indeed, greet springtime in song. Each year, in either March or April, we host a concert from Opera Tampa, the resident opera company of the Straz Center in Tampa. The singers bring with them the essence of springtime with their fresh, beautiful voices, entertaining material and youthful appearance. This year the Opera Tampa Spring Concert is slated for April 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Freedom Plaza Auditorium. The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, along with the Sarasota Opera and other opera companies across the country, provides a necessary proving ground for aspiring opera singers. Having completed their formal music education, these young artists must have opportunities to perform on the professional opera stage. Such experience is vital to success in the competitive world of singing opera.Until just a few decades ago, American singers had to go to Europe for this important step in their operatic careers. There they sang a variety of roles in a variety of opera houses wherever they could make an artistic inroad. Since European opera houses do not generally offer annual contracts, aspiring opera singers often lived, literally, from their suitcases. While this provided some valuable training in making do and singing in less than ideal conditions, it also was discouraging to many. Beginning in the 1950s, American opera companies instituted apprentice programs and similar plans to accommodate novice singers. Thus our young people could stay and study in their own country. The Straz Center and its resident Opera Tampa are among those companies that have lent this invaluable source of stage experience to a generation of fine American singers. Freedom Plaza invites you to hear a group of these exceptional artists in an evening of music embracing opera, Broadway and more. Join the singers afterward for a meet-and-greet session. Tickets are $10. Purchase yours by calling (813) 642-1213 or (813) 642-1215 or at the auditorium door starting at 7 p.m. the night of the performance.
Peggy Burgess is the resident programs assistant at Freedom Plaza and a columnist for The Sun.