Arts & Entertainment

WEO fundraiser to feature student vocalists Dec. 8

Four budding student vocalists will perform with professional opera singers starting at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 when the Washington East Opera presents its annual Past, Present and Possible fundraiser.

The event features arias from Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, Madame Butterfly, Magic Flute and Candide sung by professional soloists Carisa Simpson, Molly Holleran, Justin Raffa, Kelly and Kurtis McFadden, Robert Hanson, Kristin Swisher and Nick Fichter.

A group of vocal students who are studying opera with classical voice teachers in the area are joining the soloists. The students are Keith Meline, 15, of Kennewick; Lauren Smith, 19, of Richland; Kelly Parks, a CBC student from Pasco; and Monica Powers, 17, of Pasco.

Excerpts from Fledermaus, Giovanni and Flute will be performed during the first part of the evening. Then excerpts from Candide and Madame Butterfly, both of which are being considered for the WEO's 2009 performance season, will wrap up the evening's entertainment.

Admission is $20 with advance tickets available at JD's Time Center in Kennewick and at Tri-City Bookworm stores. Tickets also will be available at the door.

The Washington East Opera, organized about 10 years ago, is the only professional opera company in Southeastern Washington. The company has brought seven full-length operas to Tri-City audiences during the past decade, complete with orchestras, elaborate sets and singers from all over the country.

Still, the company struggles to stay afloat because of the high cost of bringing professional opera to the stage, organizers said. Hence the fundraiser to help provide the seed money the company hopes will enable the WEO to give opera lovers two full-length productions in 2009.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;