Penn Square Music Festival & 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Opera

See what Penn Square Music Festival has in store and learn some opera facts.

The Lancaster arts and culture scene is booming.

The Penn Square Music Festival, a rising organization supporting young opera artists and helping them pursue a successful career, is adding to this creative vibrancy.

We chatted with Founder and Artistic Director Scott Drackley to learn more about his organization, find out more regarding some exciting upcoming events, and learn a few tips that we didn’t know about opera! Check it out below.

Artistic Director Scott Drackley.

Snapshots of past events. 

What Is Penn Square Music Festival?

Penn Square Music Festival is all about encouraging rising opera stars and launching them into the professional musical community. 

“This organization is a professional young artists training program for young singers at the beginning of their careers,” said Scott. “It will be a summer festival that is similar to other versions such as Utah Festival Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and The Glimmerglass Festival. They are all over the country.”
One of the inspirations Scott Drackley had for starting this organization was his son’s career.

“It really started because my son is an opera singer,” said Scott. “He was a young artist performing in Utah and we attended the festival there. Afterwards, we went to a coffee shop and my son said ‘dad, you can do this at home. Young artists need this.'”

Scott did the research, got a lawyer and a board, and the rest is history: Lancaster was going to get one of these festivals. 

“The two big words I use all the time regarding our organization’s focus: education and community,” said Scott “Education for the young artists—they can come here, learn, try out the new repertoire. Then community—it can be the professional community we want to help these singers become accustomed to, and also the local community that can experience the arts in this way.”

Though the full festival isn’t going to launch until 2021 or 2022, the Penn Square Music Festival organization has many upcoming events sure to please a variety of audiences.

“We have events for all different audiences,” said Scott. “We have classic opera standards for older audiences, and then new edgier opera options for younger generations. Also, starting next year in 2019, I will be showcase a local children’s opera.”

We chatted with Scott about his great new program and upcoming events. 

Events You Can’t Miss

Like Scott mentioned, the lineup of events hit a variety of audiences and interests. Check them out below and get your tickets now!

Babes In OperaLand

When: September, 25 at 7:30pm

Where: Lancaster Catholic High School (650 Juliette Avenue, Lancaster PA. 17601).

What: Experience some opera favorites sung by three astounding singers—Sarah Hayashi, Rachel Duval, and Annie Chester. The event is not ticketed but a freewill donation is warmly accepted.

Velocity Performance

When: Thursday, September 27 at 7pm

Where: Tellus360 (24 E. King St. Lancaster, PA. 17602).

What: Two young artists will be performing at Velocity (find out more about this special Lancaster City party here). Teresa Castillo and Roy Hage will be providing music before Mayor Danene Sorace’s speech and the Lancaster community fashion show. Get tickets here.

Death by Puccini

When: Sunday, November 4 at 3pm

Where: The Ware Center (42 N. Prince St. Lancaster, PA 17603.

What: Three acts from popular Puccini Operas—La bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly. The evening will also feature a delicious feature cocktail—“Tosca’s Kiss.” Get you your tickets now.

SpeakEasy SingLoud

When: Monday, March 4 at 6pm.

Where: Tellus360 (24 E. King St. Lancaster, PA. 17602).

What: Two classically trained singers will entertain Lancaster for an intimate evening of cabaret at Tellus360. Make sure to get your tickets.

Operatic and Musical Theatre Favorites at Elizabethtown College

When: Monday, April 1 at 7pm.

Where: Elizabethtown College’s Loeffler Chapel (1 Alpha Dr. Elizabethtown, PA. 17022).

What: Two young artists will perform operatic and musical theatre favorites at Elizabethtown College! Don’t miss it—the event is not ticketed.

Opera Dark and Dirty

When: Thursday, May 23 at 6pm.

Where: Tellus360 (24 E. King St. Lancaster, PA. 17602).

What: Explore the dark and sexy side of opera. This concert will feature four singers proving that opera can be dangerous, thrilling, and even a little seedy. Get your tickets.

Snapshots of past events. 

Community Involvement: Make An Impact

This organization is all about community.

“We love sharing this art with the community,” said Scott. “Come see a show, come see a concert. That is our number one goal—getting people out here to experience the opera and to think ‘hey, this is kind of cool.’”

As far as other ways to get involved and help the organization, Scott mentioned they are always looking for help.

“Spread the word about our mission and feel free to help as we continue to grow,” said Scott. “Be a volunteer—we appreciate all the support.”

Another great option for those interested in the arts, or just a fun evening with friends, is a Soiree.

“One popular option that we have is a soiree event,” said Scott. “We travel to someone’s house—someone who has a piano or we can bring a keyboard—and have a soiree. It is about an hour long program where people will learn about Penn Square Music Festival and hear some of the fantastic singers that will be coming to Lancaster.”

Scott emphasized that it’s always a good time.

“The host can invite people to the party, have food, discussions,” said Scott. “It really is a fun way to engage with this music and meet these talented singers.”

You can also make monetary contributions, host an artist during an event, and more. Find out how you can help.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Opera

Being the opera expert that he is, Scott shared some notes about Opera that we didn’t know. Check out his answers below!

1 – Comedy Is A Huge Part Of Opera

“Opera can be full of romance, opera can be tragedy—but comedy is also a huge part of opera. Many people think of opera as always being a serious performance. But some of the comedies are the best operas out there.”

LEFT: Prepping for a show. RIGHT: A vintage shot of Downtown Lancaster, painted by local artist Richard Ressel.

2 – Not Everybody Dies

“Going along with the comedy—not all operas have everyone dying at the end! Many of them are joyful and full of characters that are energetic, and, most importantly, living at the curtain call.”

3 – Kids Are Very Accepting Of Opera

“I did summer operas every year for kids. There are so many operas out there for kids. They are very fascinated by the singing, by the spectacle of it.”

4 – Opera Began As An Imitation Of Greek Art

“Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Opera began has a way of channeling drama in Greece.”

5 – Opera Is One Of The Most Expensive Art Forms

“Paying for high caliber singers, displaying this kind of spectacle—it is very expensive. They call it the grand opera for a reason.”

Upcoming events from Penn Square Music Festival. 

6 – You Can Take An Reinvent Operas

“So many operas now are being taken and reinvented in a different time period. The opera Lucia di Lammermoor performed with the Sante Fe Opera was set in a contemporary time period. I have seen the opera Tosca as if it was set during World War 2.”

7 – The Musical Rent Is Based On The Opera La Bohème

Rent is the musical version of La bohème. That opera is actually reinvented many times in different settings. 

To explore a list of events, find out how you can donate to the organization, and learn more, check out the Penn Square Music Festival website.

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