OPERA POINTS OF VIEW 3 with LaTasha Morris and Khalil Munir

Interview with: LaTasha Morris, Vocal Instructor, Vocal Artist and Opera Soup Committee Member

Interviewer: First, what exactly do you do for the theater and what are your immediate, upcoming plans for what you’re doing?

LaTasha Morris: I am one of the vocal instructors at New Freedom Theatre. I teach ear training, musicianship, and vocal rep…I also do a bit of vocal arranging and vocal directing—vocal music directing when asked—and whatever else I can do to be of assistance. That’s what I do.

The second part was what are my plans and upcoming things I am doing? Well, I am part of the committee for Opera Soup, and Opera Soup is opera music blended with other styles of dance, and other forms of art—such as visual. It’s less recital form, and more of a collaboration of different art forms coming together to highlight the fun and exciting things about opera and classical music—even current music—so it’s something for everybody.

Interviewer: And how do you feel about Opera Soup and the blending of the different music forms in the piece?

LaTasha Morris: I think it’s great. I think it’s innovative. And I think it makes a lot of sense, because a lot of us, a lot of my generation and a lot of generations before, we haven’t been introduced to classical music or opera music in a recital form. Initially, most of the time, it was something that we saw on TV or something we heard on the radio—a commercial, jingles, or what have you.

Interviewer: Alright, and what is your favorite opera performance piece?

LaTasha Morris: Just in general? Oh my gosh, that’s such a hard question to ask. I think one of my favorite ones is…well, I just saw Kathleen Battle at the Kimmel Center and I think her performance was absolutely phenomenal and perfect in every way. She was very professional, but she was also very engaging and she drew you in. She let you be a part of the show and let you be a part of the performance and a part of the experience, and that’s what made it so beautiful. So, Kathleen Battle’sUnderground Railroad is my favorite right now. It was phenomenal.

Interviewer: Why should we be excited for Opera Soup?

LaTasha Morris: Opera Soup is going to have something for everyone. There’s hip-hop, there’s classical, there’s a bit of jazz, there’s going to be kind of a gospel feel to it in certain ways. It’s just really fun, and you get to be a part of it, so it’s really exciting. If you like to be a part of a show and not just watching a show, you should come to opera soup.

Interviewer: Do you have any closing comments or remarks?

LaTasha Morris: Come out! Bring your friends, and have a good time—and put on your fancy shoes!

Interview with: Khalil, Acting Instructor, Tap Dancer and Opera Soup Committee Member

Interviewer: First, who are you and what exactly do you do for the theater? What are your immediate, upcoming plans?

Khalil Munir: My name is Khalil Munir, and I am a teacher here at the New Freedom Theatre. I teach in the acting department, and I am also a staff member working on opera soup. I am currently working on a project. I produce my own work, and currently, it is being run at the National Jewish Museum.

Interviewer: My next question is about Opera Soup. How do you feel about the show and the melding of arts and times in the piece?

Khalil Munir: Well, I believe this is a very exciting time, and it’s a very innovative idea in terms of blending the arts together. I think it’s interesting when you take different genres and you put them in a space to create a story, and in rehearsals you can see the stories coming into play—they’re building, and you can see a beginning, middle, and end. It’s awesome that we’re using opera and hip-hop and tap and modern and ballet and jazz to tell this story.

Interviewer: Okay, and what is your favorite opera performance piece?

Khalil Munir: This is Khalil Munir going on record saying I don’t have a favorite opera piece; however, this experience is definitely introducing me to opera. For instance, on the piece I worked on a few days ago, the violinist was playing Bach. And it was very interesting to tap dance to Bach. I still found very interesting rhythms within a classical setting, so that was exiting.

Interviewer: Why should we be excited for Opera Soup?

Khalil Munir: You should be excited for Opera Soup because it’s not often that you have opera and tap dancing, or opera and hip hop, or opera and jazz, coming together to tell a particular story. I think it’s a very creative way to introduce a different demographic to opera.

Interviewer: Do you have any closing comments or remarks?

Khalil Munir: My closing comments are we should definitely encourage people to stake a claim to the arts. I think it’s very important that these types of works are produced, and that these types of works are introduced to a larger audience. Personally, the arts saved my life, and I believe that it could save so many more

Interview by Samira Ford