The Art of Opera

A Solo Exhibition by Danielle Di Stefano
Saturday, April 6 – Saturday, May 18
Kudela Gallery, Second Floor
10:00am – 5:00pm daily
Free Admission

Opening Reception: Saturday, April 6, 2:00 – 4:00pm

“Opera offers us a reflection of who we are,” Richard Mantle of Opera North said. “And what it means,  collectively and individually, to be human.” Bringing another opera-centric opportunity to Niagara Falls is  important, as it is a routinely underserved community. 23.5% of the Niagara Falls population has limited  income, making it prohibitive for all to afford the theater. This exhibition, The Art of Opera, demonstrates that opera is for everyone, not just for the elite or those who can afford it; the Niagara Falls community deserves equal access to this vital artform. 

‘The Art of Opera’ is a multimedia exhibit, created and presented by Danielle Di Stefano, soprano, who strives to bring opera and its rich history to life through its artwork and unique lecture-recital video.  Ms. Di Stefano developed it as part of the Erwin H. Johnson Memorial Fund, Inc.’s opera education outreach  program, Singing it Forward. This exhibit is comprised of five, 11 x 14 inch framed illustrations of opera characters  and settings, with a focus on historical accuracy to show/represent exactly what the viewer would see during  that time period. It also includes five 11 x 14 inch illustrated, brief essays about the operas featured. 

Each piece was created with digital mixed media (watercolors, acrylics, and pastels), and professionally printed. Also in the gallery is a looping video by the artist that highlights notes about the opera’s  settings, music, period apparel, furnishings, and primary sources used in the artwork. In addition to narrating  the video, Ms. Di Stefano also showcases an aria from each of the operas featured, so attendees can connect  further with the content matter. 

  

Danielle Di Stefano, Carmen, digital painting, 11 x 17 inches, framed.

Artist Statement

As a classically trained soprano and a music historian, Danielle Di Stefano’s goal is to create new ways to help make  opera and the history behind its subject matter accessible to all ages through my artwork, using engaging,  entertaining, and unique delivery systems. While performing is my first love, my career has expanded to  include teaching adults and school children about opera, music science and history. I am constantly striving to cultivate appreciation and love of opera in the community, especially for younger demographics. 

Opera is a beloved, centuries-old artform; its impact on humanity cannot be underestimated: it has  unified cultures, fueled revolutions, and even helped forge national identities. Research proves that music  heals: opera lowers high blood pressure, soothes the parasympathetic nervous system, lowers cortisol levels,  and boosts immune function. “[This] music engages and improves neural pathways,” says world-renowned  soprano Renee Fleming, who has worked with the medical community to develop new research programs  linking music and neuroscience.

Creating an opera coloring book of historically accurate costumes and scenes, therefore, seemed a  natural way to combine all my loves into one project. As coloring books are highly popular and now  recommended by physicians for relaxation and stress relief, ‘The Art of Opera’ utilizes contemporary art techniques (semi-realistic manga and line art) and transforms it with digital mixed media, such as watercolors,  pastels, and acrylics. This exhibit takes ten of my coloring book illustrations from the new edition of Manga and Mozart and brings them to life: five illustrations + five brief, illustrated essays corresponding to the operas  featured. Attendees will receive an up-close-and-personal introduction with actual artifacts from the artwork, such as 1,100 year old Chinese frescoes, original paintings from the time of Cleopatra, and traditional Spanish embroidery. 

This project explores the intersection of technology and tradition in art practice and music education,  utilizing a multimedia video to act as a docent, introducing attendees to the operas in a unique and engaging  manner. In addition to offering historical notes about the artwork, insights into the composer and music, the  presentation will also share the primary sources/artifacts used as source materials, as well as recordings of arias from the operas, so viewers can experience the music first-hand, creating a holistic learning opportunity.

  

Danielle Di Stefano, Turnadot, digital painting, 11 x 17 inches, framed.