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Arts and Entertainment

Springfield Regional Opera, Gillioz Theatre, And Jeff Houghton Collaborate On "The Opera Hour"

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(Poster design courtesy Springfield Regional Opera)
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Springfield Regional Opera, the Gillioz Theatre, and Jeff Houghton, host of the local TV talk/variety show “The Mystery Hour,” will collaborate on a sort of old-fashioned radio show onstage at the Gillioz, focused on the art form of opera. They’re calling it simply “The Opera Hour,” and it will be performed live at the Gillioz Friday February 12th at 7:30pm, and with an online streaming version available a few days later—and, we’re planning on offering it in radio form here on KSMU at a later date.  I talked with SRO’s Music Director Dr. Christopher Koch on the phone from his home on the Oregon coast.                                                  

“This is, hopefully, our last truly ‘COVID-era’ event--knock on wood,” says Koch, “in that it's a small event with all of the social distancing and safety protocols that we've been practicing all year.”

Watching streaming events is fine, Koch said, but he feels people are ready for a little bit of normalcy in their lives, and that includes watching a live performance onstage—albeit in a safely socially-distanced environment. “So we just had the idea that, instead of trying to do another ‘traditional’ event and try to record it in an empty hall and stream it and all that, we would try something a little different and just kind of use a radio show format. So essentially this is a variety of guests and musical guests talking about opera and life and basically interacting with one another for a hoped for later production of this event to be broadcast at a later date.”

Jeff “Mystery Hour” Houghton is involved in the show. “Jeff Houghton, of course, is, you know, a wonderful, talented personality. And his performance schedule has been impacted as well. And we’re friends, and we thought it would be a wonderful collaboration to have him in, kind of as the host, and just to do something that harkens back maybe a little bit to ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ or other shows like that, where we can showcase some wonderful singing, and a few instrumental numbers, and some interviews and banter… and just an old fashioned opera radio show.”

Another participant will, of course, be SRO’s own Artistic Director, internationally renowned tenor Michael Spyres.  Unfortunately, he won’t be able to be onstage here in Springfield at the Landers on the 12th. “He’s in Spain right now,” explained Christopher Koch.  So Michael will appear in pre-recorded form. “So there are there are some interviews. And we're also going to be featuring some different performance materials from around the world.” Other participants include Sean Burgundy, Rebecca Claborn, Michael Payne, Ethan Dixon, Jonathan Raney, and members of the SRO Orchestra.

“And, you know, we’re also very happy to return to the Gillioz stage. They have not had many live productions this year, of course. It's great to support them, as well as Jeff Houghton and ‘The Mystery Hour.’” Koch reiterated that, “hopefully this will be our farewell COVID-era special event. We're really looking forward to our next (live) event in June, (at) which, you know, we'll continue to practice all of the safety measures that we've been engaging. But by then, we're hoping that things will be, and feel, a little different for this performance.”

Live-audience seating at the Gillioz on February 12th will be limited to one-fourth capacity of the hall only, along with all the social distancing protocols the Gillioz has had in place since March of 2020. 

“And,” added Christopher Koch, “there is an online version as well for patrons who just aren't comfortable coming in person.”  The streaming version of “The Opera Hour” will not be concurrent with the live event on the 12th, said Koch. “They’re delivered to online purchasers usually within three to five days of the live event. Once you have it, it's available for you for about a month for you to watch it.” Which means live attendees will also be able to purchase the streaming version and watch it later.

For information on “The Opera Hour,” visit https://www.sropera.org. From there you’ll be linked to the Gillioz website, https://gillioztheatre.com/event/the-opera-hour-a-musical-radio-show/, to purchase tickets for the live event.