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Kalliope Vocal Arts Gives Young Performers A Platform They Need

Kalliope Vocal Arts

The musical “Rent” took Broadway by storm when it first premiered in 1994.  It tells the story of a young group of friends living on Manhattan’s lower east side in what might politely be described as “squalor.”  It tackled a variety of social issues such as poverty and HIV, but also age-old questions of identity.

But what many of the millions of people who have seen it might not know is that it was based on the storyline of one of the beloved war horses of opera, Puccini’s “La Boheme.”  And so it was a perfect production for Milwaukee’s Kalliope Vocal Arts.

President and General Director at Kalliope, Devere Burnett explained more about the company’s unique mission with Lake Effect's Bonnie North.

"We are a group that's dedicated to fostering the talents of young operatic and musical theatre singers," he said. "We began five years ago with just a dream really to put on a show, and three years later we became an official non-profit organization."

While Milwaukee has many talented singers, Burnette wanted to address the issue of making onstage experiences more available to performers recently out of school, but not quite established in the professional realm.

"It's really hard when you're young and trying to figure out how to balance the transition from being a student to being a professional...there's often times a missing link," says Burnette. "And there was a time where a lot of my friends would graduate, but were not able to make the transition. We [needed] something here that fosters that critical time." 

Kalliope Vocal Arts' production of “Rent” runs this weekend and next at the 10th Street Theater.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.