Tulsa Opera in the national spotlight

Monday, October 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa Opera is in the national spotlight as it opens its season with a production of Verdi's "Rigoletto."

The company is featured in this month's edition of Opera News, the magazine published by New York's Metropolitan Opera. And as News on Six reporter Glenda Silvey tells us being in the spotlight comes at a critical time in our nation. Opera News says it wants to expand coverage beyond the Met and other large companies to include the more interesting regional ones, and Tulsa Opera is high on that list. Brian Kellow, Opera News Editor: "Not only because the company has a very distinguished history of presenting some of the leading opera stars in the world going back many many years, but because of the direction its taken in recent years."

Kellow refers to the leadership of Tulsa Opera Director Carol Crawford, now in her 8th season here. His feature on the company in the October edition credits her rigorous standards and commitment to educating the community about the art form. Kellow says one of the best things about Tulsa Opera is that it's a great source of community pride. "And there's a great feeling that people want to get out and support it, even if they don't like, say, "Dialogues of the Carmelites" as much as they like Rigoletto." Crawford is enthusiastic about the cast assembled for Rigoletto, including Harolyn Blackwell, Gary Simpson and Joseph Wolverton.

She's also pleased about the Opera News coverage, saying it validates the company's history, and its future. "People in the largest cities think there's no life outside the largest cities, and that isn't true. And I think that the health of the arts in the United States will be determined by cities just like Tulsa.” Both Crawford and Kellow say the health of the arts is threatened by low funding, declining media coverage, and now a world crisis. But they say in a time of such pain and fear, the survival of the arts is more crucial than ever. "I think it has to hit home with you that the presence of art and beauty and culture is more important than ever in the world, and you can't underestimate it, and you can't devalue it. And this is the very best part of life in many ways."

"Rigoletto" will be performed again next Friday night and Sunday afternoon at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.