When you think about New Orleans, there are many rich and savory images, flavors and sounds involving the region’s heritage, food and music that likely pop into your brain. Words like Cajun, Creole, Bourbon Street, gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, jazz, swamp and zydeco might come readily to mind, but chances are, “opera” does not. But it should. As noted in OperaCréole’s bio: “Since the 19th Century, Creoles of New Orleans have made contributions to the music and culture of New Orleans. It is their participation in opera, as well as the music of Africa, Spain, and Haiti that contributed to the birth of jazz.”
Related: Read more on the all-AXS Jazz Fest Guide
The artists who comprise OperaCréole may assemble from a diverse background of teachers and performers, but all are rooted in New Orleans. Furthermore, The ensemble is dedicated to “researching and performing lost or rarely performed music, and sharing with the community the contributions of our people to this musical art form, not only in New Orleans, but around the world.”
OperaCréole debuted on May 21, 2011 at the historic St. Mary's Church in the French Quarter. The concert was presented by Louisiana Creole Research Association (aka LA Creole) and included the music of Edmond Dédé, Lucien Lambert, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges and William Grant Still. LA Creole is “dedicated to preserving Creole culture through historical/genealogical research, educational programs, and celebrations.”
There is a sophisticated, yet down-home elegance that permeates the air at an OperaCréole performance. Alone, the individuals are worthy of respect and marvel. When these vocal artisans perform together, however, they sing with an inspiring exuberance, their voices rise and intertwine to create an exquisite multi-layered tapestry of grace and wonder. OperaCréole is a powerful testament to the vibrance of the human soul.
Current members of OperaCréole include: Crystal Morris, Valerie Jones Francis, Eldric Bashful, Ebonee Davis Tyrone Chambers, Aria Mason, Brandon Richardson, founder Givonna Joseph, Ivan Griffin, Prentiss Mouton, Vickie Thomas and Ariana Douglas.
Jazz Fest Performance: Sunday, May 4, 2014
Go see this if: You’d like to experience a refined presentation of rare music indigenous to the region