Photos courtesy of Susan Lantz-Dey
From left to right: Linda Rough, Vicky Oxley and Hartwig Eichberg, accompanist, of the Opera Belles perform at the April 22 Southwest Youth and Family Services fundraiser in West Seattle.

UPDATE: Opera Belles help raise over $2500 for Southwest Youth and Family Services

Update for April 26
Southwest Youth and Family Services board member Susan Lantz-Dey reported back from the April 22 SYFS fundraiser that brought the Opera Belles trio to a West Seattle home. The event raised over $2,500 to date for the program in dire need of additional funding in the face of continual budget cuts.

Susan wrote:
It was a spectacular event. Perfect weather, 45 guests, wine & cheese and milling about the house (west side entirely glass) and deck, and a program of opera duets. With the doors closed, the acoustics were unbelievable, and all seats were essentially front-row. Even if opera wasn't one's preference, the display of the vocal instrument was truly inspiring.

Words do not begin to express the good that Southwest Youth and Family Services (SWYFS) accomplishes in the lives of at-risk youth and families in West Seattle. All that SWYFS does, with a very limited budget, speaks volumes about their programs and dedication of their staff. I am proud to serve on their board.

Southwest Youth and Family Services is a private non-profit, 501(c3 organization. Here are a few of the services they provide to our community:

Counseling: Individual, family and group counseling for youth and families; youth violence prevention case management, and intervention for academically at-risk youth and criminal justice system involved youth. Counseling is provided in English and Spanish.

Education: High school re-entry services; education for teen parents to obtain either a GED or diploma; Summer Young Writers Workshop and summer youth employment.

Family Support: Parenting education and support; advocacy for immigrant and refugee families and for families with children with developmental disabilities. Services are available for Arabic, Cambodian, English, Samoan, Spanish, and Somali speaking parents.

For more information, including details on how to donate anytime, please visit their website at http://swyfs.org/.

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Original post on April 16
Press release from SWYFS

Southwest Youth and Family Services (SWYFS) is having a small, intimate fundraiser on April 22 at the home of one of its board members. This event should be the highlight of an opera-goer's year!

Budget cuts have seriously impaired the ability of SWYFS to provide services needed in our community, of empowering youth and families through culturally relevant counseling, education and family support services in West Seattle, Delridge, White Center, and South Park.

The Best of Opera -
A Vocal Recital by The Opera Belles
to benefit Southwest Youth and Family Services
Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 4:00 to 6:00 PM

The Opera Belles is an ensemble of a vocal-duo-plus-piano (professionals) founded on the joy of singing. Over a year of study and work to perfect an exquisite vocal blend and synchronized delivery, the Opera Belles now present a performance of the most beautiful opera hits in a unique way, with double the beauty and double the passion!

Great Music for a Great Cause!

Join Us and Enjoy...

-An afternoon of beautiful music in the intimacy of a private home on Fauntleroy Cove in West Seattle
•Cheese and wine reception
•$50 per person
•Register at www.swyfs.org - click on Vocal Recital
•Location information provided with receipt
•On street parking

Opera Belles’ background
The Opera Belles is an ensemble of vocal-duo-plus-piano, performing the most beautiful opera hits (“only the good parts!”) in a unique way!

Many of our vocal arrangements – with more to come - are completely original, and there is good reason for that!

For those of you who know opera, you’re aware that not every voice type is suitable for every role! An example: an appropriately heavy-voiced singer cast as Brunnhilde, who must create a wall of sound to be heard above the orchestra in Wagner’s big-brassed Ring Cycle grand operas, would seem overbearing in the lyric roles of Cherabino or Suzanna in Mozart’s Figaro. The gorgeous aria “Vissi D’arte” from the Puccini opera Tosca, which also requires a big dramatic sound, would never normally be sung by the same vocalist cast to play the lyric-voiced Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus.

And, while a bel canto soprano voice is considered too light for much of the gorgeous dramatic repertoire, the unfortunate mezzo soprano is excluded entirely from many of the loveliest arias ever written, because her range doesn’t fit! (Is this fair?!)

For so much of opera’s most beautiful numbers, the market is simply cornered by the voice-type for which the role is written!

These and other problems had to be surmounted in order to sing “only the good parts”!

With the help of a couple of small key changes, some precise excision, and the creation of original harmonies, we founded our duo on the joy of singing the best female operatic arias, in duet form! After over a year of diligent study together, working on perfecting our exquisite blend, synchronizing our deliveries, and fine-tuning our repertoire, there are times during our concert where you will swear this is only one voice singing. Who is who?

Double the beauty, double the passion: We proudly present “The Opera Belles”!

~Linda Rough, Mezzo-soprano
~Vicky Oxley, Soprano
~Hartwig Eichberg, Accompanist

The Opera Belles bios
Vicky Oxley, lyric soprano, studied voice and concertized in the French Art Song genre under the tutelage of the prestigious voice teacher, Susan McBerry, while living in Portland. When she relocated, Vicky continued her singing as soprano for four years with the Bellevue Chamber Chorus. Vicky served on the Seattle Opera Board for ten years; her mother was an accomplished opera singer. Having grown up in a family of opera aficionados, when she resumed vocal studies recently, it was in opera. Her voice has grown under Marianne Weltmann’s teaching and with Opera Belles. Vicky also enjoys singing lighter fare with the “Rotary Rogues” where she is a soloist.

Linda Rough, mezzo-soprano, sang with Seattle Opera in chorus roles from peasant woman to royalty during her 15 years on Seattle Opera’s mainstage. Prior, while studying music at Willamette University, she was cast in lead musical roles, including playing “Mame” in MAME, and began formal opera studies after graduating. Her first opera teacher, Edmond Hurshell, an internationally-famous baritone, starred her as the lead in “Carmen” at his Studio. Linda also enjoys “standards,” having performed regularly at Canlis and today with the “Rotary Rogues” of Seattle Rotary. A group she formed called “Popera” opened the King FM Out-to-Lunch series and was selected as “Outstanding” by the King County Arts Commission for their classical roster. She continues vocal studies with Marianne Weltmann, Seattle’s icon voice teacher.

Hartwig Eichberg, pianist and conductor, grew up in Hamburg, Germany, where he was a prizewinner in the Steinway Piano Competition. He earned his PhD in Musicology with a dissertation on the piano works of Johann Sebastian Bach. He subsequently worked as a conductor and coach at several German opera houses as well as in Italy, France, Hawaii, and Brazil. He moved to Seattle, WA in 1992 where he performs as a freelance musician, accompanying singers and instrumentalists in concert, teaches piano and coaches singers and instrumentalists in his Seattle studio. He has served as music director at several churches in Seattle, and is currently organist/pianist at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church. He is the director of the Jubilee Singers, a chorus devoted to the tradition of a capella singing of the African-American Spirituals. For 4 years he was Music Director of Riverside Little Opera in Riverside, CA. In the Seattle area he has participated in numerous opera projects.