Our newest team member Aubree Penney talks about her first day at Opera Memphis in the first of a series of posts about life in the offices at Opera Memphis.
“Try Musetta,” Sarah, the Director of Operations, told
me as I tried various passwords for the computer on my first day.
“Oh darn, how do I spell Musetta…is that the guy who wrote
the waltz? Wait, does he have something to do with opera?” I thought to myself
as I stumbled through the spelling in hopes of landing on the magic password.
I’m not an opera person per se. I’ve spent the past five
years working the visual arts. Most of our team are opera people, who’ve spent
years steeped in this wonderful world. Words like comprimari
are second nature to them. And then there’s me, sitting in staff meeting with a
blank look on my face, going “I can do web management and InDesign.”
But for all my lack of knowledge about opera, I know I love
it. The first opera I ever saw was Carmen,
with the legendary and locally beloved Kallen Esperian in the title role. My severely dyslexic father took me in an act of selfless love, given he
was stressed that he would not understand what was happening. We made a pact to
try to avoid reading the captions, him out of necessity because he could not
read that quickly, me in the spirit of equity.
I was amazed to find that even with the language difference,
I still understood what was happening! Well, admittedly not every word. But the
emotions and images translated instantly, striking me to the core. I remember being transfixed by the story as my eyes and
ears feasted on the costumes, the scenery, the soaring music.
And that was it. There in my balcony seat somewhere on the
house left side of the Orpheum, I fell in love. Eight years later, I’ve signed
on as the Marketing and Outreach Associate to help bring other people to this
I’m thrilled that this season we’ll be featuring Kallen
Esperian in a show entitled Love Changes Everything, and The Tragedy of Carmen will be a part of our Midtown Opera Festival, giving me a
chance to re-immerse myself in two of the driving forces that brought me to
opera so long ago.
I’m elated to help other people discover a love of opera as a part of team Opera Memphis. After all, being
a part of something larger than yourself is amazing in and of itself. Being a part of something
larger than yourself that probes the depths of human emotion, that leaves
people inspired and overcome with a display of beauty and talent, is downright
Even if it does mean I have to learn how to spell Musetta.