‘Night at the Opera’ comes to Santacroces

Those of you who may be “blues’d out,” are in for a treat. In the beautiful landscape of the Gorge, which harkens to Wagner, opera would seem a natural accompaniment.

In an area drenched with local live music performances, especially this time of year, it took the Santacroces’ to finally take the plunge and sponsor the first Gorge “Night at the Opera,” on Saturdays, beginning July 12th, at 8:30 pm.

Delivered by ex-New York diva, Jan Conrad, it promises to be an evening of a little Bocelli, a little Brightman, and a little Callas. And you don’t even have to drive into Portland.

Conrad also teaches private voice locally. In fact, one of her students, Katie Rawson, just performed the title role in “Oliver,” in a Hood River production.

The pianist for the evening will be Tracy Ross. Tracy is a native Californian who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. His family was very musical; both parents were professional singers and Ross and his brother began studying piano at age five.

Ross attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the University of California, Berkeley and the Manhattan School of Music in New York where we received his Master of Music degree.

He won several music competitions as a youth and went on to perform professionally on both piano and trumpet. He has toured with the Western Opera Theater throughout the United States and has also performed in Japan. Opening for the evening will be Tobias Ammon playing jazz violin from 8 to 8:30.

For those who think you may not like opera, beware; you may change your tune. Conrad has many opera converts to her credit, including herself.

She started out singing pop and musical theatre and even fronted a rock band. But once she started singing opera she couldn’t go back.

“Opera singers were the original rock stars. The big raw emotional sounds of the voice are universal, and not confined to one style of music,” she said.

Upcoming gigs include concerts with the NorthCoast Philharmonic at the Seaside Convention Center, June 30th and July 1st.

Following the Santacroce’s gig on the 12th of July will be a concert at Hawks Ridge in Hood River on the 18th, a lead role in “Annie” with Skamania Performing Arts on August 4-9 in Stevenson, and a recital at the Stevenson Community Library (also in Stevenson) on September 7.

Conrad has been a professional classical soloist for 25 years. A lyric-coloratura, she also has performed some 20 operatic roles with New England Lyric Operetta, New Jersey State Repertory Opera, Amato Opera, Minnesota Opera, Opera Omaha, Regina Opera, and Long Island Opera. Locally she performs with the Hood River Sinfonietta and just finished a three-month run of “Nunsense” at Sylvia’s Class Act Dinner Theatre (Portland). Awards include the Met auditions, the VOCE Competition and NATS.

After 14 years in New York, and living through 9/11, Conrad escaped, renting a U-Haul and driving across country with only her dog, Houdini as company. After the death of both parents, she wanted to be near family. Her sister Julie Diers lives in Odell with her husband Allen, and daughters Lydia and Hannah (both of whom are local “Nutcracker” stars).

For more information, contact Santacroces at 354-2511.

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