Jeni Houser is described as a soprano who communicates delicious expression in the merest tilt of her torso and the flickering of her fingertips.
Reviews of the Stoughton Native and international opera singer’s performances state she is luminous in voice and visage with a commanding yet vulnerable presence.
That presence will be on display during Houser’s solo performance at Madison’s Opera In The Park, 8 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at Garner Park, 333 S. Rosa Road, Madison.
Houser said she’s never performed during Opera in the Park but these types of performances are her favorites. The “magical events” have thousands of attendees, a full orchestra and choir.
“But it feels like a picnic,” Houser said. “There is no dress code and we sing opera excerpts, musical theater pieces, solos and ensembles ... in a beautiful setting.”
Houser, who has performed in Vienna, Texas, Colorado, Kentucky, Virginia and elsewhere, said it is always a special experience to perform where she grew up. This is a particularly special performance, she said, because it is the first time her and her husband, David Blalock, will perform a duet together in Madison.
“I feel really great whenever i can perform for friends and family,” Houser said. “(My husband and I) will look out into the audience and feel like we are performing in front of my hometown.”
Houser, a 2001 Stoughton High School graduate, remembers working with former music teachers like Craig Mason, Lee Wagner and John Beutel. She was in the choir program all four years of high school and still comes back to Stoughton to work with students and current choir director Ryan Casey.
Although opera can have a reputation for being high brow entertainment, Houser said this multi-layered art performance — which combines drama, orchestra, singing, costumes and poetry — often surprises people.
“People who have never been to the opera, it feels like storytelling,” said Houser. “It feels like you could be watching a really good Netflix show.... It is a powerful visceral experience.”
In addition to the experience opera provides, Houser explained, the singers are trained to not use amplification in their performances. The singers have no microphones and project their voices to large spaces and audiences.
“It is an athletic endeavor,” she said. “Our bodies are our instruments. (Performers) think of it as training like an athlete might.”
At Opera in the Park, there are 21 performances total. Houser will perform “Un Dì Felice,” “Hymn to Bacchus Barcarolle,” “O Luce di Quest’anima” and “When the Children Are Asleep.”
For information and full schedule visit madisonopera.org