I had a really neat musical experience last night, as the Franco-American Vocal Academy (FAVA) put on an operetta called “A School for Husbands” (an English language version of Jacques Offenbach’s Le mari à la porte) in the auditorium of the old high school building in Elgin, Texas. The music was beautiful. The young singers and the pianist who accompanied them were very impressive.
The story, in a nutshell: A bride gets mad at her husband on their wedding night and locks him out of the bedroom. As she commiserates with her friend, they discover a young composer who has fallen down the chimney and an awkward situation ensues as they try to get rid of him before the groom discovers him.
I am extremely proud of Elgin for packing the auditorium — and I’m proud of FAVA for hosting the free event and introducing their art to the community. Elgin, Texas is close to Austin. A lot of folks live here and work there. But in many ways it’s still a rural town. The kind of place that loves barbecue, country music, high school sporting events. It’s just a good solid Texas town.
Something like the opera can be intimidating for small towns. Years ago I was in a small town in West Texas and some folks put on a Christmas pops concert. It was sparsely attended because a false rumor spread around that suits and ties were required and it was a blue jeans and boots kind of place. That was sad, because it was actually light-hearted and fun and they would’ve loved it.
Elgin is very fortunate to have one of three FAVA schools for professional opera singers. The other two are in France and Austria. Since William Lewis and his wife Frederique Added (both talented singers in their own right) moved to Elgin and opened their school in an old bed and breakfast, they have done a great job of making opera music inviting to people who might not have experienced much of it. They want to develop a community of people who love their music, and based on the attendance last night, I think they’re on the right track.
It’s the same philosophy I have with this blog. I don’t go around saying, “I’m into [fill in underground music group], but of course you wouldn’t have heard of it.” I say, “Give this a try, you might like it!” I’m all about winning musical converts, not bragging about my taste in music.
I couldn’t find a video of the artists performing “A School for Husbands,” but here is a video of an Offenbach piece FAVA performed in Paris: