Helen Cayer wants to make one thing clear: Don’t let the word opera fool you.
As a member of the Havre de Grace Arts Commission, Cayer is ecstatic to be bringing the Lyric Opera Baltimore to the beautiful and historic on April 30.
"To listen to these famous people that I would not hear otherwise, to have them right here in my own town—it’s amazing,” Cayer ruminates.
Cayer said that this will be a night for all music lovers. The HdG Arts Commission is responsible for putting together Friday concerts in . They’ve had Shakespeare and brought some of the classics in as well, but with this event they’re “bringing something a step above what is normally presented here,” Cayer said.
Cayer said the commission “wants [the event] to be well received.” She added, “When people come to this they will be amazed at how wonderful the talent is and what we’ve brought to this community.”
One of the highlights of the evening will showcase Havre de Grace’s own Suzanne Chadwick—a mezzo-soprano talent and voice instructor. She has performed with the Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia National Opera.
Chadwick received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in music and vocal performance from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.
Havre de Grace residents may recognize Chadwick from a couple of events that she's participated in locally. She sang at the cannon rededication ceremony at the last year and also led carolers in the candlelight tours last Christmas.
Chadwick said she is, "very excited to introduce my singing and that of my colleagues to Havre de Grace, and to many friends and students who know me, but not necessarily my singing. However, I'm most thrilled to bring the new Lyric Opera of Baltimore here.”
Chadwick and Cayer both agree that the music people can expect to hear is music they already know (along with a few new songs) and is set in a casual atmosphere.
Chadwick promises that material is best when heard in person rather than on broadcasts or recordings.
“Many people react with goose-bumps when they hear the human voice like this— live,” she said.
It is what keeps her motivated.
“I love performing and I love if I feel that I’ve moved somebody, you know that is one of the coolest experiences,” she said.
It’s not just stunning and powerful voices that event-goers can look forward to either. James Harp, the resident organist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will be on piano for the night. Harp has accompanied several major artists, including Renee Fleming.
Chadwick describes singing with Harp by her side, “like taking a journey on a flying carpet."
In the tradition of what composers call the “pants role,” where they would write for a female to sing the role of a young male adult, Chadwick will be performing her first three pieces as “pants roles.”
To help set the stage for this pants role, Chadwick will be donning an approximately 100-year old tuxedo jacket that has been loaned to her from Barbara Wagner of . The historic jacket was owned by Wagner’s relative and Maryland philanthropist Jacob France.
Chadwick is hoping that Harford and Cecil County residents will take advantage of this night by referring to an old tagline that a former Baltimore Opera Company used to tout: "Opera, it's better than you think. It has to be!"
There is a capacity of 500, and tickets remain—contact Cayer at 410-939-5544. The event will last for approximately 90 minutes and will consist of three singers along with Harp "enlightening and enlivening [the audience] with interesting story details and annecdotes before each piece," Chadwick said.