Our valley is very passionate about the arts. All forms of art. We support artists of all genres, from drama to dance. From applied art to symphonic art. We have popular public art installations all over the desert, but what about opera? Does our community support this beautiful art?
The answer is yes! The Palm Springs Opera Guild has been in the Coachella Valley for five decades and continues to thrive.
Laurie Baldwin, CEO of the Palm Springs Opera Guild, says, “Opera has a false reputation that it is only for the elite. This is a huge mistake, and we are changing this misconception one child at a time in our valley. “
The nonprofit organization reaches over 25,000 local children each year through their school programs. Opera knows no boundaries with age, gender or social status. Sharing the knowledge, appreciation and insight of this beautiful art form with young students is the perfect entry level for the guild.
“We like to call it an ‘opera opportunity’,” says Baldwin. “We are proud to have such an impressive reach in schools. Students love to be exposed to this exciting art form.
The Palm Springs Opera Guild has been able to provide these educational opportunities to local students through grants, fundraisers and private donors. Baldwin says, “Any way we can get the word out to children is important because these will be our next generation of opera lovers. “
The organization hosts many events throughout the year to share their love of opera with members of our community, regardless of their age. ‘Don’t be afraid of the opera’ is a fun experience for beginners and of course every year he holds his popular opera in the park.
“We want people to love opera and learn more about opera,” Baldwin says. “The biggest obstacle is that people think they won’t understand it because it’s often in another language. Or that they can’t relate to it. But when you walk into the opera, it’s so overwhelming, and it gives you chills. It’s amazing to hear those voices come to life and tell the story, and then it hugs you. “
The guild recently held a competition and auditioned over 60 young performers between the ages of 21 and 35. The candidates came to the wilderness and auditioned for the preliminary judges, then were reduced to eight. Entries spanned the entire western United States with singers from as far away as Texas. Local finalist Ashlyn Brown is from Rancho Mirage and has been studying and singing for years. She now has her Masters in Music.
So for those who say opera is too demanding or too difficult to understand or not as accessible, the members of the Palm Springs Opera Guild disagree. Having trained tens of thousands of young local students in the art of opera, there is a good chance you will find a very enthusiastic young opera lover who has recently been educated in this beautiful art form which might teach you a thing or two.
To learn more about the Palm Springs Opera Guild or to make a donation, visit palmspringsoperaguild.org or call (760) 325-6107.
Sandie Newton is an award-winning broadcast journalist who began her career in Los Angeles as the co-host of the nationally broadcast “PM Magazine”. She went on to host numerous local and national shows like “Hollywood Insider” before becoming one of the original anchors of E! In 2017, she moved full-time to the desert to join NBC Palm Springs as an NBCares correspondent. She is also the host of the daily weekday show “Desert Living Now”.