CHANDLER, AZ — From the deepest love to the most crushing loss, all of it can seemingly be found in an opera performance.
“What opera did for me, I feel an inherent duty to try and give back,” said Richard Gibson.
What it did for the Marine Corp veteran can’t be understated. Facing combat overseas in Iraq, it was the sound of song that helped drown out the devastating thoughts and sights of war.
“Whenever I was in that fighting hole whenever I was trying to go to bed, fall asleep, I just reverted back to that and listen to Bjorling singing in my head,” said Gibson.
The bellowing bass of his voice not only soothed his soul but that of his brothers in arms. Whether an off-the-cuff performance or in front of tens of thousands at the 2014 World Series where he sang America the beautiful, there was no mistaking the energy exchanged between him and those listening.
“It takes them home for just a moment, it takes them away from all of that madness for just a moment,” said Gibson.
That great appreciation for the music also inspired him to start the Chandler Opera Company, hoping to showcase the immense talent found all around the Valley while inspiring a new generation to embrace the classic art form. Just as it did for Gibson, opera offered a form of healing for the companies' tenor Taylor Comstock.
“I lost my mom at a very young age and music kind of became an escape for me, it kind of gave me a sense of closure in a way,” said Comstock.
They’ll kick off their first performance of La Boheme at Sun Valley Church in Tempe this Saturday, determined to deliver an emotional performance and ignite the passions for opera they feel, in the hearts of people across the Valley.
“For me, there’s no way that you can’t be moved, that’s kind of the big joy of opera and the journey of life,” said Gibson.
If you want to learn more about the cast or interested in attending the show, click here.