PANAMA. In honor of the National Theater’s 100th year anniversary, the Panama Opera Foundation presented the famed Puccini opera “Madam...
PANAMA. In honor of the National Theater’s 100th year anniversary, the Panama Opera Foundation presented the famed Puccini opera “Madama Butterfly” on Tuesday.
Irena Sylya, the foundation’s director, said Tuesday’s performance was sold-out, and the audience was “totally enchanted”, applauding for over 15 minutes with a standing ovation.
Many called it “the best opera” performed in Panama, and “even those who had seen Madama Butterfly in other places said it was comparable.”
Mrs Sylya was content with the success of the performance and looks forward to a repeat sell out tonight.
While marking the the celebration of the centennial of Panama’s cultural house, it is important to note that the successful production also celebrates the newly-founded Panama Opera Foundation, and one woman’s quest to both quench the thirst for opera for existing connoisseurs and to enlist more Panamanians as fans of the art.
Mrs Sylya, has dedicated a great part of her life to opera, and has enjoyed the fortune of working with some of the genre’s greatest performers.
She first visited Panama nine years ago, and fell in love with it as quickly as she fell in love with opera.
From the first time she landed on the isthmus she says she “felt at home.”
Two years ago Mrs Sylya was invited to speak at the University of Panama.
“I saw so much talent, students appreciated it so much ?that is not the case everywhere,” she said, mentioning it as one of the reasons she chose Panama as her hometown after having lived around the world.
She’s been here for almost two and a half years. “People are so gracious,” she said. The country is beautiful, but it’s the people that have kept me here.
Mrs Sylya sang in musicals at an early age and was exposed to Opera at 18, when she performed in Don Giovanni at her college.
“I sang in the first opera I ever saw”, she said. “I went to school in Alabama where there was classical music but no opera.
“That is why I am passionate to bring opera to Panamanian schools.”
Part of Panama Opera Foundation’s goal is to help aspiring opera artists and inculcate an appreciation for opera from an early age.
For the current production students got half-price tickets for a section of the theater, and one school group joined them in rehearsals.
In the future she hopes more school groups will attend.
Additionally, she wants to mirror what’s done in the United States and have the cast visit both private and public schools to perform 15-20 minutes of the operas, to plant the seeds for the creation of the next generation of opera lovers.
Long-time opera aficionados and new converts after this successful performance will be happy to know that the Panama Opera Foundation is planning to produce Bizet`s Carmen, (which is fourth on the list of most performed operas’ in the U.S.) a Mozart opera and a Christmas Gala in the future.
Although Sylya believes holding more than three or four productions a year would be “too ambitious” at the moment, she does hope to expand the number of days for each performance as demand for opera increases.
Ever since that first performance at age 18, Sylya has been hooked to opera.
“Opera requires such a degree of precision? it is an athletic sport almost, it is like walking a tightrope? the adrenaline!” she explained excitedly.
“To have the honor of performing the roles of masters is a “spiritual experience,” she said.
Now, her goal is to spread this excitement and love across Panama.