Once New York based baritone, Jay Chacon, felt that his SINGING-IN-PLACE SERIES was winding down, he started to think of other ways to continue performing. Here he shares some personal anecdotes about quarantine life in NYC and reveals the details on his latest endeavor, ViOp Productions.
What was the most difficult aspect of dealing with life during COVID?
Loneliness. At first it was fine, I was doing well in isolation and living alone. I was okay not going out and not seeing people. But after three months, it finally got to me. I missed just being in the presence of friends and family. And seeing as my family live in Arizona and Texas, traveling to see them was not safe. Face-Time calls were fine for a short time, but they just aren't the real thing.
What was day-to-day life like living in NYC?
My life during COVID at first was a little sparse and unknown. My jobs weren't exactly guaranteed, but eventually everything stabilized and I was working from home. Between my administrative job for Theater Resources Unlimited, teaching after school drama clubs, recording for two churches and my recital series, my days were full. I would generally start my work day around 11am, work until about 6pm, make dinner and try to eat before 8pm, record and study music until 10pm, then go for an evening power walk and read until bedtime. I actually didn't watch a single movie or TV show for probably the first two months. I had quite a productive and satisfying routine.
What was the inspiration for forming ViOp Productions?
The inspiration for ViOp Productions came after I decided to wrap up the SINGING-IN-PLACE recital series and I started thinking about my options for future projects. I had entertained the idea of trying some sort of virtual performance with colleagues, kind of like a Zoom Opera. The idea really came about when chatting with my friend John Riesen, who I met two years ago while singing Handel’s Messiah with New Amsterdam Opera. He suggested recording a duet together.
As we talked about which duet we wanted to perform, the lightbulb went off! We became inspired to perform all of our options and do a duet recital. That was the moment I decided to use this as a springboard to create a virtual opera company, which is where the name comes from: VIrtual OPera.
As I thought about a pianist to play for us, I immediately thought of my friend, Jon Garrett, from St. Louis. Jon and I used to collaborate on various recitals and programs when I lived in St. Louis. Since the repertoire for the program was a mix of opera and musical theater, I knew Jon was the perfect choice. He is highly skilled in both mediums as a pianist and vocalist.
What Was The Next Step?
Once we had the program set, we had to get creative with recording. I live in New York, John Riesen resides in Michigan, and Jon Garrett is in St. Louis. Jon first recorded the six accompaniments, and then John and I would record our parts. After we were satisfied with the quality of our work, I used GarageBand to stitch it all together.
In addition to developing and recording the first program, I also worked on building ViOp Productions into a legitimate and viable business. I was able to secure an SBA loan so that I could not only continue to create art in a meaningful way, but I could also pay artists. Now part of my new venture is as job creator!
ViOp Productions is a virtual performing arts company dedicated to providing performance opportunities to artists and to creating art and music for the public. Our mission is to create a cohesive performance for live stream, giving artists a new opportunity to continue working and creating. We aim to create virtual concerts and recitals, operas on film, and virtual readings of new works.
When Is The Gig?
Our debut production will be Crossing Paths: Music of all the Stages, a duet recital featuring myself, tenor John Riesen and pianist Jon Garrett, with videography by Chris Whittaker and subtitles by Allison Gish.
This will be followed by a filmed version of Act 3 from Leoncavallo's La boheme featuring Melissa Serluco as Musette, Alexei Kuznietsov as Marcello, Bonnie Frauenthal as Mimi and Michael Dauphinais on the piano.
Performances will be streamed on Friday, 9/18 at 7:30pm, Sunday, 9/20 at 2:00pm, and Tuesday, 9/22 at 7:30pm. All performance times are ET.
Anything else you would like to add?
When I realized that this this had the potential to be more than just a summer project, I decided to take it one step further in creating ViOp Productions with John Riesen and Jon Garrett. We are looking forward to our future endeavors to continue bringing music and theater to the world. We are artists and we must continue being artists- regardless of the format.
For more information about ViOp Productions and to purchase tickets, please visit- www.viopproductions.com.
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