Classically shaken, not stirred


Last year’s Taos presentation by conductor and educator Oliver Prezant on opera arias was met with an enthusiastic reception. The Taos Opera Guild brings Prezant back for another entertaining presentation on opera this January. Working with the title “Opera Meets Broadway,” Prezant aims to focus on comic opera and how it influenced the early Broadway musical.

“Opera Meets Broadway” will take place on Saturday (Jan. 14) from 10 a.m. until noon at the Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux St.

“In this talk, we’re going to look at the moment when musical theater was turning into Broadway, really going back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, when opera is still a really big thing,” said Prezant.

Prezant noted that American musical theater composers drew from elements in opera and from other genres, such as vaudeville and Irish theater.

“Suddenly, all this turns into Broadway, and it becomes this very American art form,” said Prezant, who will play audio clips from musicals and operas as part of his presentation.

“We’re going to look at how light opera – comic opera – really is one of the influences that helps Broadway to become what it is today,” he said.

Prezant will explore musical theater composers from Tin Pan Alley, such as Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. From the operatic side, Prezant will look at music as far back as Mozart’s “A Magic Flute” and more recent light – or comic – operas, which tend to focus on a combination of comic situations and romance. “Gypsy Baron” by Johann Strauss II is one example of a comic opera. Prezant’s presentation is aimed for a general audience.

“Anybody who comes to this is going to go out knowing a little bit more about music and feeling into it through experience,” promises Prezant. “It’s more of a presentation and less of a talk. There will be opportunities to try out some of the lyrics, look at some of the words to these songs, look at some of the tunes, look at how they’re constructed. It’s a great way to get inside the music. … This is going to be a fun talk that is really for everybody.”

Prezant has been a lecturer and educator for the Santa Fe Opera for many years. He has also led education programs and lectured for the San Francisco Opera Guild, Tanglewood Association of Volunteers, Opera Southwest, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and Albuquerque Museum of Art.

He is the music director and conductor of the Santa Fe Community Orchestra. He has performed as a violist with the Santa Fe Opera, New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Opera Pacific and the California Chamber Virtuosi.

Prezant is also the artistic adviser to the ArtWorks program of the Santa Fe public schools. Prezant serves on the faculty of Santa Fe University of Art and Design and was a faculty member in the Contemporary Music Program at the College of Santa Fe for many years. He graduated from The Mannes College of Music in New York City and studied conducting at The Pierre Monteux School.

Tickets are $25; $20 for members of the Harwood. Coffee and muffins will be served before the presentation.

For more information, call (575) 758-9826 or visit