From dream to reality: Rudy Harper and Opera Jupiter; Queen Anne resident produces surrealistic variety show

That moment was the birth of his son.

Harper says, "I was laughing and crying at the same time. I remember holding him and him looking at me, starkly, like, there you are - the most honest look you could ever experience. I've been transfixed by that ever since."

Everything changed for Harper.

"[I understood] the continuum I was on, and suddenly it was clear I had to be myself and do the work that is important to me; I had to be starkly myself as my son was himself."

Harper had already acquired a solid musical background, studying music at the University of New Mexico, where he played the trumpet, first with the university orchestra and then for seven years with the New Mexico Symphony.

He also did odd jobs like commercial painting and selling espresso machines. For some years he led a Gurdjieff group, which follows the teachings of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff on how to study one's own psychology and change it for the better. During this time, he discovered he had a talent for motivating people.

After his epiphany, Harper became more interested in art and beauty, and became aware of the responsibility he had to use his talents. Opera Jupiter evolved as a way to use his gifts for artistic performance well. First, he pulled together "a guitarist, bass and drummer - the guts of a rock and roll band."

The band grew into what Harper calls a cabaret band, adding accordion, saxophone, trumpet trombone, clarinet.

"The show morphed," Harper says, "from a straight musical presentation into a European-style variety show when some performers from Chamaleon Variete in Berlin joined us."

Today, Opera Jupiter is what Harper describes as a "surrealistic variety show," presenting comedy, jugglers, contortionists and aerialists, as well as music and singing. The group has performed in coffee houses and at the Seattle Art Museum. In 2002, the group put on seven shows at the Nordic Heritage Museum.

On June 14, Opera Jupiter's main guest is one of the founders of The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Ivan Karamazov, who is famous in his own right as a juggler, comedian and baritone horn virtuoso.

Also featured are the "Third Eye Brass Band" and trumpet soloist Russell Campbell.

There will be a variety of small acts such as belly dancer Rebecca Moorman and 8-foot-tall clown Godfrey Daniels.

And, as always, the Opera Jupiter house band will perform, with additional spice provided by the Opera Jupiter Dancers, six chorus girls doing Vegas-style dancing. Co-producer Randy Minkler will serve as the master of ceremonies.

The July performance will feature clown Hacki Ginda from Chamaleon Variete.

"Opera Jupiter Presents" will perform at the Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 N.W. 67th St. in Ballard, on Saturday, June 14, at 8 p.m. and on Friday, July 18, at 8 p.m. Prices: $12 for adults, free for children younger than 12. Tickets will be sold at the door. Information: Nordic Heritage Museum at 789-5707.

Freelance writer Ina Gilles is a Queen Anne resident.

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