Art is like an Opera...

my events

Public Service Announcement concerning bubblebath and jacuzzi tubs. Comic by Karen Strum
The lives of artists are often the subject matter for operas, and after this event I felt I had a story to tell. It started with Jolanda Nel, she is a talented opera singer with Bella Voix and Klassika who serves up a cross-over pop format that pleases young and old audiences a like. On May 20th she had a concert at the Cuban Club in Ybor City. As an artist, I was lucky enough to be a participant and not the inspiration,  even though the week leading up to it felt like a dramatic score of music! Jolanda has a strong belief in supporting the community and I became involved when she opened the theater lobby to artists and their displays.

Opera is a huge undertaking, made up of many different parts: overtures, acts, arias, and recitatives just to name a few. The week before the opera was full of drama and had so many operatic elements that Mozart would have been proud.


An overture should foreshadow the plot and mood of the opera, it prepares the audience for what will follow later. In my “overture” the first initial obstacle was having no prints in stock. I needed to quickly have my artwork printed, matted, put in clear envelopes and priced. Luckily enough, my friend Dana was able to mat my art on short notice once I had the pieces printed. He's the owner of Montage Gallery located in Palm Harbor and he did his best to reassure me on the success of the show as I bagged the matted prints and priced them. The beginning of this adventure was rocky, but I felt positive about the story's conclusion.


Dad helping with the ladders
In opera, the aria is a solo melody performed with accompaniment during the body of the opera itself. My “aria” was the sound of electric sanders as I tried to put together an impromptu display that would look professional, yet artistic, in the Cuban Club. I decided to refurbish two ladders, string my artwork up between them, and decorate the steps with flowers. My “accompaniment” was my father who is always close by to lend advice and power tools.


Recitative refers to the parts of an opera in which a performer imitates the rhythm of the spoken word. It serves to drive the plot forward rather than to present new musical material. Recitative is accompanied sparsely. At this point in my preparation, I found myself battling with a number of issues all alone. I dealt with the stomach flu, PayPal card readers, and even problems transporting supplies in my Fiat. I kept an internal dialogue and found myself chanting, “Damn, damn, damn,” under my breath as I drew closer to the event date.


Chris and Karen After "Duet"
Opera would get pretty boring if only one character sang for the duration of the performance. Fortunately for the audience, composers have always employed ensembles as parts of an opera. An ensemble can refer to a duet, trio, quartet, chorus, or any group of performers singing together. In the final act of this concert, my boyfriend Chris joined me for a “duet”.

Final Act

I arrived early to set up my display and Chris showed up shortly after to provide the muscle. Within an hour our teamwork resulted in a beautiful display ready for opera go-ers. Jolanda's fans were incredibly kind and showered me with compliments as they filled the club - I now have several new collectors!

I really didn't know what to expect from Jolanda, but I was very impressed with the show once it started. Chris and I snuck into the back of the theater and stole a couple of seats. There were several different groups performing and they all had their special take on opera. Most of the music was comprised of pop music found on the radio that they had reformatted for opera. It was very unique and an all together enjoyable experience. I couldn't have been more pleased!

The finale concluded with a crescendo of thunder and the sky ripping open. It poured rain as we loaded the car. However by the time we returned home, it was all smiles. Jolanda just announced on the Bella Voix Facebook page that they will be auditioning for America's Got Talent in Orlando. She has also booked another show at the Cuban Club for December 8th, 2017. When she asked me if I wanted to show my artwork in the lobby again, and I gladly accepted. Great things are happening for Jolanda and I'm glad to be a part of it.


A new collector!


Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

About the Author: Karen Strum is a Tampa Bay illustrator available for freelance projects. A unique cast of characters in her style can be designed for use in advertisements and materials for which you want something extra special. Karen's cartoons use retro imagery and vintage color palettes that add charm to every image she creates whether it is a comic, logo, diagram, book cover, or concept image. [Send an Email]


Sold Out