The concert will have the sparkle and flare of a gala event.
Which would be an appropriate description of the event - a gala, where everyone comes together to celebrate something fun and exciting.
In this case, it’s the return of two of the LSU Opera’s most successful alumni, both of whom have performed roles with the Metropolitan Opera.
That’s where the sparkle comes in, the star power that will captivate audience members when Paul Groves and Lisette Oropesa combine voices on Sunday, Sept. 25, in the program From LSU to the Metropolitan Back to You.
Robert Grayson will provide the piano accompaniment in this concert, which will take place in the Crowne Plaza ballroom.
Grayson is a key player in this event, because he’s not only its coordinator but was professor to Oropesa and Groves when they were students at LSU.
Both performers agreed to donate their time and talent to perform at this concert, the proceeds of which benefit the funding of scholarships in the LSU School of Music’s voice and opera programs.
“All of the proceeds are going to these programs,” Grayson said. “The Crowne Plaza has given us its sponsorship, the performers have donated their time - everything has been donated. So, all of the proceeds - everything - will go toward the scholarships.”
Legislative budget cuts last spring sliced deep into the School of Music’s own budget, leaving it with fewer scholarships for music majors. Grayson chairs the Opera/Voice Division and sees this concert as a way to raise in a single evening almost all the money needed to fund the scholarships for the year.
Grayson also is founder of Opera Louisiane and was director of the company until stepping down in June to focus on raising money for the Opera/Voice Division.
“This is a great opportunity for us,” he said. “And we’re so grateful for these sponsorships and donations - we’re so grateful to Paul and Lisette for donating their time.”
Both Oropesa and Groves are award-winning vocalists who have performed on stages both nationally and abroad.
Oropesa is a New Orleans native who grew up in Baton Rouge. She is a graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera, where she has performed numerous roles.
At Pl?cido Domingo’s Operalia Competition in the summer of 2007 in Paris, Oropesa won the Zarzuela Award, as well as third place in the general competition. Additionally, she is also the recipient of a 2008 Sullivan Foundation Award.
Groves is a native of Lake Charles, who studied at the Julliard School of Music after graduating from LSU.
He then entered the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Artists Development Program, winning the Met’s National Council Auditions in 1991. In 1995, he won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award.
Groves has performed leading roles with major opera houses throughout the world, including the Boston Lyric Opera, De Nederlandse Opera, La Scala, the Los Angeles Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the San Francisco Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, the Vienna State Opera, the Washington National Opera and the Welsh National Opera, among others.
It was, in fact, a concert by Groves that gave Grayson the idea to coordinate this event at the Crowne Plaza.
“Paul had asked me to play a concert for him in Lake Charles,” Grayson said.
A hotel-casino sponsored the concert, which had an attendance of some 500 people.
“They were able to raise $90,000 that night for the Salvation Army,” Grayson said.
“So, I approached Kelly Hurtado, who is close friends with the Crowne Plaza. We’ve received amazing support for the things we do at LSU from the Crowne Plaza.”
The concert program will be varied, including operatic favorites, along with some popular pieces. Tickets will include a light dinner, along with wine.
The event also will include a silent auction organized by the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. These proceeds also will benefit voice and opera scholarships.
The evening will conclude with a reception, where guests with premier tickets will be able to meet and mingle with the artists, who may be stars on the Metropolitan Opera stage but are still devoted to LSU.