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Local opera singer returns to Holmes stage

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Local opera singer returns to Holmes stage
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Last summer, Frazee native Amber (Estenson) Schwarzrock presented her first concert at Detroit Lakes’ Historic Holmes Theatre, “Small Town Girl to the Opera Stage.”


As the title implied, the theme of the concert was about her journey from growing up in Frazee to becoming an opera singer and performing with 300-piece orchestras.

This week, Schwarzrock returns with what she hopes will be an even more successful follow-up, “From Mozart to Broadway,” which will be presented on the Holmes Theatre’s main stage this Sunday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m.

This time, Schwarzrock says, the concert will give listeners more of a taste of what an actual opera sounds like, as she will be joined on stage by friend and fellow opera singer Brian Wallin, who like Schwarzrock is a University of Maryland graduate.

“I’m really excited to have my friend join me on stage,” she said. “Brian is a tenor, and he’s originally from Minnesota as well.

“We’re going to sing some famous opera love duets,” she added. The concert will also feature the talents of local pianist Paul Heisler.

The concert’s title is also a hint of its theme, Schwarzrock said, as it will start out with some arias from Mozart’s operas, and progress to some selections from two of Broadway’s most operatic musicals, “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables.”

As she explains, the origin of the Broadway musical actually lies in opera, “which was the musical theater of Mozart’s day,” Schwarzrock said.

“Opera was always pop culture music,” she added. “Anyone can get involved in opera, it’s absolutely addicting — and it’s for everybody, not just for the rich and the elite.”

So that those who might be considering attending Sunday’s show won’t be put off by the selections that are sung in foreign languages, “the foreign language portion of the show will have supertitles (translated lyrics projected on stage electronically),” Schwarzrock said.

This year’s show will also have a dual purpose, she added.

“I’m trying to raise funds to participate in a music program in Italy this July and August,” she said. “I will be singing the lead in Benjamin Britten’s opera, ‘Turn of the Screw.’”

To offset the cost of the trip, Schwarzrock will also be selling copies of three different recordings that she has made — all three of which will be available to the public for the first time at Sunday’s concert.

“This will sort of be a (CD) release party as well,” she said.

The three recordings that Schwarzrock has made are “Minnesota Diva,” a collection of operatic arias; “List Thy Voice,” a collection of religions favorites including “Amazing Grace” and “Ave Maria”; and “Classically Christmas,” which is a collection of 12 classic holiday carols.

“These recordings will hopefully be available online and in the community after the concert as well,” she added.

Tickets for Sunday’s concert are $15 for adults, and free for all students.

To nurture potential future opera singers in the community, she will also be offering a special vocal class at the theater on Monday, June 24 at 7 p.m. Cost for the class is $20 per person.

For more information on the vocal class, or to purchase tickets for the concert, please contact the Historic Holmes Theatre Box Office at 218-844-7469, visit the website at, or stop by the box office at 806 Summit Ave., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The box office will also be open for two hours prior to the show.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 15 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

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