It was a Thursday night. So Charlie Widmer was singing R&B while his brother Fred rapped.
Then it was a Tuesday morning. Now Widmer was singing opera. Belting it out. In advance of doing so again for a crowd on the New Haven Green.
At 24 years old, Widmer is pursuing two vocal careers in one.
As a budding opera singer — a quest he embraced at 18 when he decided he wanted to tackle this difficult vocal hurdle — he will join nine other young talents Saturday, Aug. 19, on the New Haven Green for the second annual Opera Palooza fest. From 7 to 9 p.m., as the sky darkens and a new lighting array gradually suffuses the Green with illuminated color, each singer will take a spot performing an aria, backed by a 30-member orchestra.
Meanwhile, food trucks and carts will be busy, if last year’s successful festival was any indication, with a special focus on Italian specialties.
“There’s this idea that opera is inaccessible,” sung by old people standing far away about stories you can’t understand, observed Simon Holt, the event’s conductor. He said events like Opera Palooza bring people close to the music and highlight young talent, like Widmer. And the emcee will explain the story behind each aria to the crowd.
Widmer, who lives in Oxford, also fronts a band called Sub-Urban. He describes the music as “neo-soul hip-hop fusion.” The band played last week at Cafe Nine to an enthusiastic audience. Also fronting the band is Charlie’s younger brother Fred (aka “Eff-One”), a rapper. The two grew up loving hip hop; Fred was recognized early on as a gifted poet and writer. Onstage, the pair seamlessly alternated between Charlie’s melodic vocals and Fred’s rapping, and back again. It made for an original sound.
Their band has a new recording or originals coming out. Click on the above video to sample an example.
And meanwhile, check out Opera Palooza on Aug. 19. And the above video, in which Widmer sampled the aria “Una Furtiva Lagrima” (“A Furtive Tear”) on an episode of WNHH radio’s “Dateline New Haven” program.
Click on the above video to watch a solo from last year’s Opera Palooza.
Click on or download the above audio file to hear Charlie Widmer, Simon Holt, and irrepressible city cultural affairs chief Andy Wolf discuss the upcoming AUg. 19 Operapalooza!, on WNHH radio’s “Dateline New Haven” program.