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Feel It, Live it

Feel It, Live it

Let’s talk opera.

When you think of opera, do you envision an elegant evening of spectacle and emotion presented by some of the most gifted artists on earth? Then you’re thinking of Inland Northwest Opera, and your season tickets are one of your most treasured possessions.

Or do you think of opera as two portly people in slightly musty costumes and horned Viking helmets (which the Vikings never wore by the way) standing two feet apart and bellowing Wagner at each other for several loud hours?

If you are best described in the second paragraph above, let’s talk opera!

Why do lovers serenade their sweetheart? Why sing their love rather than say it?

When you try to research this puzzling pairing of melody and speech, you find things like the following:

The ability to detect emotion in speech and music is an important task in our daily lives. Studies have shown that the power of the human voice to communicate emotion is well documented in verbal speech as well as in non-verbal vocal sounds, and the human voice is thought to convey emotional valence, arousal and intensity via its modification of spectral and temporal signals.

That’s OK, we didn’t understand it either.

But what we do understand is when we sing along with the lyrics of the music we love, we feel our emotions go wherever the words and music take us. “The Dance” sung by Garth Brooks can suddenly flood us with bittersweet sadness even if we were happily belting out, “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places” just 20 seconds ago.

And what we do understand is that the human voice is a miracle. No instrument can duplicate the effect it has on our mind, soul and spirit. We may say of a favorite actor, “I would pay to hear him read the phone book.” When the human voice sings, it can thrust us down to dense despair or boost us up to sunlit heights.

Here are the words on the website home page of the famous Inland Northwest Opera: "Experience OPERA … where the raw power of the human voice and drama of love and tragedy come together in one spectacular event. Feel it, live it - the thrill of opera!”

Be bold. Dare to do it. Silence your mobile device and close your theatre program. The curtain is going up on a beautiful, wonderful, awesome creation—an Inland Northwest Opera production! After your soul has taken flight on the wings of voices that are gifts from God; after laughter at divinely comedic moments and tears during scenes of death and heartbreak; when the closing moments bring you to your feet and you applaud until your hands hurt—then opera will return you to your real daily life with a window opened in your soul that can never be shut.

The Inland Northwest Opera, which some have known by their former name, Opera CDA—a name change that was precipitated by the desire to serve a broader audience in both Idaho and Washington, is the only professional opera company in the Inland Northwest. Their mission is simple and one they fulfill with great joy: “To produce exceptional opera that inspires, enriches and expands the hearts and minds of the Inland Northwest community.”

Just how do they accomplish this? One such way is through their Opera-tunities program, the goal of which is to instill an early appreciation of opera among elementary-aged children through a 60-minute performance at the schools. Over the course of the last eight years, Opera-tunities has produced eight operas and held over 160 performances for almost 50,000 students in Idaho and Eastern Washington.

They also present wonderful performances that are free to the public. This summer, a children’s opera titled “The Toy Shop” was performed at First Presbyterian Church in Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Public Library, and West Central Community Center in Spokane. They also did several performances at schools in North Idaho and Eastern Washington. The performance included opera students from both the University of Idaho and Eastern Washington University.

One of the most anticipated performances of the upcoming season is “Madame Butterfly,” which will take place at Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox in Spokane on September 20 and 22. General Director Dawn Wolski stated that this performance is meant to honor the Japanese legacy of our region.

“This 1904 opera emerged as a powerful message on racial bias, and it remains relevant today,” she said.

“Madame Butterfly” features a young Japanese maiden whose pride and honor are wounded by an American naval officer. Directed by Fenlon Lamb, “Madame Butterfly” will feature an innovative set design constructed from paper by Papermoon Opera Productions, who will create a virtually all-paper set with unique lighting and projections providing a dramatic stage effect.

The technique has been used for “Carmen” with Annapolis Opera and North Carolina Opera in 2019. Conductor Dean Williamson, who is entering his fourth season as music director of the Nashville Opera, returns to INO where he received his opera conducting debut. Elizabeth Caballero last appeared in Spokane as Musetta in “La bohème” in 2015 and as a 2017 soloist in Spokane Symphony’s Verdi’s Requiem. Sandra Piques Eddy appeared in Spokane as the title character for “Carmen” in 2017.

“Madame Butterfly” is sung in Italian with English supertitles. Tickets are priced $23 to $90. There are group rates available for groups of 15 or more in addition to special rates for seniors, veterans and educators in kindergarten through 12 schools.

To request information about having the opera come to your school, please email Katrina Zepeda at For more information on the opera and ticket information, go to

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