The Importance of Community

Apr 1, 2010

By Ric Furman

Did you know that right now you are part of over 150 different communities? Seem like a lot? It did to me. So I started thinking about it.

My family. Okay, that’s one. My neighborhood, my city, my state and nation, even the world. How about this group of 3 other singers I’m here with? I guess that would count as another. And the company here in Omaha or even Omaha itself, for the time I’m here, anyway. Then there’s the “singers world,” and beyond that the “opera world.” Okay, now I can see how these could add up. So why would I care?
I came to Omaha on February 21st and I’ll leave on April 19th. That’s two full months! Have you ever spent a day around people who hate you? When you can feel them sour because you just came in the room. Their conversation just stops.

Flip side: Remember a day, a whole day, with people you love. People who love you back. People who are happy just because you’re there.

Another illustration is this: remember back to junior high or high school and being at a dance or even a class where no one knew you were there. Even worse, they didn’t care. You weren’t even important enough to say “hi.”

What if you had to spend two months is one of those situations? Not too difficult to deside which one to chose, is it?

I can’t tell you how what a difference there is in a company where I feel welcome versus one where I’m just tolerated. I want the people of Omaha to understand that they really have something special here! And to please keep it coming!

Within the first week here nearly everyone at the Opera Omaha office found me, as well as the other Voices in Residence members (VIR’s) and told me they were glad I was here and that they were looking forward to the next two months with me. We were invited to two performances of Le Nozze di Figaro, the cast party, and both the Artistic Advisor and the General Director invited our group to dinner or lunch. At these events many board members and guild members came up and introduced themselves just to say “hi.” Amazingly, the public seems to be following suit.

This type of thing continued beyond the week. We’ve been treated well by more people than I can remember, though I wish I could. My time here is more than half over now and we’re still being treated like family or at least treasured friends.

Last weekend we had the honor of singing at a dinner for Eve and Fred Simon. It was a wonderful evening with great singing, skits, roast-like comedy, and, of course, great food. At the end of the evening there was a dessert reception where all were invited to come and personally thank Fred and Eve. Amazingly, before I could tell them thank you, they both thanked me for my part in the evening and for coming to O/O! This is a rare kind of class. A rare kind of grace.

Thank you to all of you who have taken a moment to say “hello” or gone out of your way to make us feel welcome. There is a good community here in Omaha. This is one place that has gotten it right. My hope is that anyone reading this will take a moment the next time they are at an O/O event, find someone on the staff there, and thank them. This is the kind of community we all need.

Ric Furman is enjoying touring Nebraska and Western Iowa with Opera Omaha’s Voices in Residence, a series of engaging, interactive, multi-media classroom performances created for students in middle school, high school or college, the performances provide a framework for experiencing the interaction of word s and music – the essence of opera. Ric Furman will appear in Opera Omaha’s celebration of the great American musical So in Love with Broadway.

Ric Furman, tenor, studied at Western Illinois University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for his Bachelors and Masters respectively. Mr. Furman won two State National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Competitions and one Regional NATS Competition, as well as winning the District Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions and placing third at the Regional level. Mr. Furman is rapidly becoming much sought after on both the concert and opera stage. His roles include Rodolfo in La Boheme, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Alfredo in La Traviata, the Duke in Rigoletto, both Roméo and Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette, Chevalier de Danceny in The Dangerous Liaisons, Detlef in The Student Prince, Beppe in I Pagliacci, and two world premiers: Adam in Eve’s Odds and Jay in A Stranger’s Tale, as well as notable roles in Aïda, Don Carlo, Ainadamar, Carmen, Salome, Samson et Daliah, Dead Man Walking, Il viaggio a Reims, The Marriage of Figaro, Gianni Schicchi, Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Così fan tutte, The Tender Land, and Die Zauberflöte. Concert venues include Carnegie Hall, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Dayton Philharmonic.

Tickets for So in Love with Broadway start at just $19.

Friday | April 16, 2010 | 7:30p
Sunday | April 18, 2010 | 2:00p

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