This Saturday a couple of local divas will bring to Oil City a style of songs not typically performed in oil country.
Jamie Bastello, a recently relocated artist from Colorado and New Mexico, is teaming up with the Rebecca Lopuh, a longtime Cranberry Area Elementary School music teacher, to present 20 operatic songs.
The performance is scheduled at a small stage hidden inside the same Seneca Street building that currently houses the Lyrical Landscape art show in the Graffiti Gallery.
Both vocalists recently returned to performing and are collaborating in an effort to bring this form of high musical art to northwest Pennsylvania.
“A lot of people have never heard an Italian aria, but people love it. People really respond to it,” Bastello said of her recent experiences doing pop up shows out by the Allegheny River and in the staircase of the storied National Transit Building.
“You wouldn’t think that everyday, blue collar people would be connected to opera,” she continued. “But I really think about “La Boheme” - the bohemian - and it really is about the common struggle and there is something very appealing about these stories.”
She said even if the Italian words aren’t understood, the emotions are conveyed through the music. “I love taking it from the bourgeoisie and giving it to the people who need it the most.”
Bastello, who has sung in the shadows for the colosseum in Rome, says experiencing this type of music live can be transforming.
Bastello, after losing her mom and dad in a short amount of time looked for a place she could pursue her art and afford to live without a mortgage hanging over her head. She found Oil City and learned of the artist community created through the city’s artist relocation program. She’s been here about a year.
Lopuh, who is originally from Mercer, studied music at Clarion University.
Lopuh said her life as a teacher, which she loves, has made it difficult for her to pursue more singing. “You teach all day and you’re just exhausted at the end of the day. You really have nothing artistically left to give,” she said.
Lopuh recently decided to try out for “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Barrow-Civic Theatre in Franklin. Performing on stage again reignited her passion for singing and performing.
She met Bastello while singing with the Venango Chorus. “To be honest, I kind of ran away from her,” Lopuh said with a laugh admitting she was bit nervous about the possibility of performing with Bastello. But after her experience performing in "Joseph" she was all in. “I love Jamie’s vision of bringing this kind of music to the area.”
With that common goal in mind, the pair picked out a collection of solos and duets, including some from the “Marriage of Figaro” by Mozart, to perform.
The concert will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 14 at a private stage inside 228 Seneca St., Oil City.
Tickets can be ordered online at https://Jamie_Bastello_Graffiti_Concert.eventbrite.com