MidDay at Grace to start 2021 with prosperity and virtual concerts

MidDay at Grace Concerts, which captured the music lovers’ imagination in Culver City beginning in Dec. 2018, will begin Jan. 2021 with online performances.

Thanks to its creator and music producer Mary Lou Basaraba, the concerts continue with virtual performances in a pandemic climate. She reviews, selects and then promotes each artist with email blasts.

Basaraba, who is the Grace Church director of music ministry, plans to start the new year with international star Audrey Babcock.

“I expect to get back on track with the regular online video formats in January and plan to present Culver City resident, Audrey Babcock, international mezzo soprano,” Basaraba said by email in December.

Babcock has received praise for “her commanding, powerful performances as Carmen, her dark, hypnotic portrayals of Maddalena in Rigoletto, and her emotionally raw performances as Aldonza in The Man of La Mancha.”

The Salt Lake Tribune described her performance as Carmen, as “spellbinding tour de force…from the moment she took the stage her self-assured characterization was mesmerizing…Babcock’s caramel-hued mezzo was a pleasure…her supple tones caressed the notes, radiating earthy allure.”

In the 2018-2019 season, she debuted in  three roles – the Mother in “Hänsel und Gretel” and Baba/Flora in “The Medium” with Victory Hall Opera, and Elizabeth Proctor in “The Crucible” with Opera Santa Barbara.

She followed that in the 2019-2020 season with a return to Opera Santa Barbara as Suzuki in “Madama Butterfly,” took her show “Beyond Carmen” to Opera Delaware, and made her Seattle Opera debut as Baroness Nica in “Yardbird.”

Babcock is an active producer who has garnered much acclaim for her “Choreopoem, Carmen: Shadow of My Shadow.” This work utilizes flamenco dance, re-purposed songs from southern Spain, moments of Bizet’s Opera Carmen, as well as vocal and physical improvisation to break down the façade of the impenetrable femme fatale represented by the image of Carmen and the Flamenca, as mentioned in the College of Arts + Architecture website. 

“The work seeks to uncover the messy, human center; the woman who is both vicious and vulnerable, terrified and terrifying, desperately shattered and yet completely whole. Babcock’s first piece, Lily; her life, his music is a bold one-woman tour-de-force multimedia production featuring the music of Kurt Weill. The work follows the fictional cabaret singer Lily Weiss as she claws her way through the seedy cabarets of Berlin, to the brothels of Paris and finally on a ship bound for America in the thick of World War II.”

Babcock received her undergraduate training from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice and she earned her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.