Our Mission is to provide young artists opportunities to spread the joy of professional opera to communities that do not have easy access to the arts.


          Hub Opera
          Ensemble Limited

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What Hub Opera Ensemble Means

     As a child, my parents made sure to expose me to classical music, and I took a liking to it; the orchestral kind, that is. Until I took Music Appreciation at HCC (then HJC) with Dave Warner, the extent of my Operatic knowledge was from two Bugs Bunny cartoons and some instrumental arrangements I had played in a concert band. When Francesca and I met, I had an academic appreciation for the form, but didn't know much about it beyond fat bearded tenors and buxom blondes in breastplates and horned helmets. I had so much to learn.

    Dave gave me (and my family and I think most residents of Washington County of a given age) the foundation I needed to build a love for opera. He taught me who Joe Green was (Guisseppi Verdi), what all the commotion was about, and that it's not all about Valkyries and Barbers. His teaching stuck in the back of my brain, but I did little with it. It was a solid foundation, well-poured and very well cured when I met Francesca. My love for opera is part of the house built of my love for Francesca.

    Looking in from the outside, even with some solid underpinnings, Opera can be damned near impenetrable. Sure I can tell a tenor from a bass, but even with the translations flying by, what's the deal with the costumes, and why are the sopranos always dying on stage (their character in the opera, there is no epidemic of singers collapsing during performances). These and other questions pile up fast as you try to watch the performance. It can be tough for the neophyte. Most folks are turned off by it without having even tried, thanks to Pop Culture typecasting Opera as something only billionaires with a yacht for every day of the week go see. Francesca taught me that was all wrong, or definitely should be.

    The plot of the tawdriest Soap Opera (why do you think the detergent people appropriated that name?) pales in comparison to most traditional Opera plots. Faked deaths, betrayed love, suicides, and that's just some of the Italian stuff; the French stuff gets seriously weird. Italian, German, French, Russian, even when in English Opera can be hard to follow if you try to read every word going by in the translation. The trick to going to the Opera, I have learned, is to know the basic plot and about where each of the big arias go, and just sit back and enjoy the music. The adjective "Operatic" has its literal genesis here. The plots are so big and broadly painted that you'll be able to follow the gist of what's going on while sitting back and enjoying the music. The key is a little foreknowledge, and this is where Hub Opera Ensemble has it figured out.

    We decided early on that the Hub Opera Ensemble needed a serious education component. In Washington County we don't get out to the Opera much; I mean, the Herald Mail ran a front page above the fold photo and headline the morning after our first production (Ariodante) and the article pointed out that an Opera had not been performed in Washington County for decades. So we haven't had much opportunity to learn beyond what Dave (and later guys like Joe Marschner) have taught us. We know helmets and loud singing, and we know that maybe we should go, but it's an unknown and maybe we're a little afraid of this unknown thing. We're proud and we don't want to let on that we might not know much about this Opera thing. We (Hub Opera Ensemble) are here to help. A big component of our productions are the lectures we offer prior to one or two of the performances of each Opera we put up. HCC Faculty, Hub Opera staff, and the actors who are in the Opera are all on hand to discuss Opera in general and the specific opera that will be performed that evening - you even get a ticket to the opera with the price of the lecture. This is a great way to learn about opera and, as I counseled above, to be able to sit back and enjoy the music because you know what's going on, and you know that when it's over you only have a short drive home.

    So many Washington County residents travel down the road every day for work. We read about great cultural opportunities in Baltimore, DC, and even Frederick, and so we spend our dollars down the road, rather than bringing them home. Hub Opera is more than good for your soul and good for your mind: it's good for the economy of Washington County. It's an evening out where you can go to dinner, take in a great quality performance by talented young professionals, and only have to drive 10 or 15 minutes to get home, meanwhile bringing all those dollars home to spend in the local economy. I'm not going so far as to say that attending a Hub Opera Ensemble performance is your civic duty (I guess I just kinda did), but I know about having to drive home from attending a performance, and a 10 minute drive to my bed seems just about perfect.

    I hope I've been able to convince you of the importance of not just Opera, but of the Hub Opera Ensemble in particular and what it can do for our home. Since you'll be coming to the opera soon, I'd like to offer you one last piece of inside information: Opera performers are actors, have no doubt. They do as much character work as any movie or Broadway actor, but they are also singers. As much as they will love it if you compliment their acting, their hearts will run over with joy when you compliment them on how well they nailed their big aria, and right after a baby's laugh and a puppy's soft fur, there's nothing so great in this world as the smile of a complimented opera singer just after a performance. I promise.