Cauldrons, Creepers, and Bird-People: Opera Scenes 2010

This past Friday and Saturday in Reith Recital Hall, students in the opera workshop showcased their voices and acting skills in the 2010 Opera Scenes Performance. The performance consisted of eight scenes from eight different operas. Listeners also participated: audience members could purchase flowers for 10 cents to throw at their favorite performers.

At opening, cacophonous cackling was heard from the back of the hall and a rather large group of witches crept upon the audience from behind, proceeding towards a cauldron on the stage. This scene from “Dido and Aeneas” by Henry Purcell featured Molly Kellogg as a sorceress and other women as her minions, crawling along the balcony and stage, and singing as their ringleader presided over a potion.

Next, Andrea Detweiler and Aaron Kaufmann sang a duet from “Don Giovanni” by Mozart, “La Ci Daram La Mano.” In this scene, Don (Kaufmann) tries to seduce Zerlina (Detweiler), a beautiful woman already promised to someone else.

“Aaron played a smashing Don Giovanni,” said Detweiler. “It was a pleasure to be seduced by him every night. A real pleasure.”

Mozart followed again with Martin Brubaker as Papageno, a funny bird-man lamenting the loss of his funny bird-woman, Papagena (Carrie Riviera, a senior), from “The Magic Flute.” Although the first half of the scene was Papageno’s reluctant contemplation of suicide, this morbidity was diffused by the lightheartedness found in Mozart’s works. Three spirits brought Papageno his Papagena, however, and the scene ended with the Concerto-Aria Papageno/Papagena duet, in which the reunited couple revels in their future and inevitable offspring.

After intermission another Mozart scene ensued, this time from “The Marriage of Figaro,” sung by Riviera playing Susanna and Amy Hansen playing the Countess. Titled the “Letter Duet,” the two women compose a letter in order to trick the Countess’s Count.

A shift in composers came as Ashley Walker assumed the role of Carmen from Bizet’s best-known opera, “Carmen.” The scene opened with two women (Adrienne Yoder and Jenny Miller) “reading their cards” to tell their futures. Carmen spent the first bit of the scene looking glum and the next portion explaining that her depression results from her reading of her own cards, which consistently spell out death.

Then came a drastic change in mood. A Gilbert and Sullivan piece from the operetta “H.M.S. Pinafore” featured Emily Hedrick and Justin Yoder as the winsome yet wistful Buttercup and her heartthrob, the Pinafore’s Captain. Buttercup, determined to make the Captain love her, tries to use her gypsy blood to convince him that he has no choice but to love her in return.

The concert ended with an amusing scene from “West Side Story,” “Officer Krupke.” Featuring the men, the piece concerned a group of delinquent gang members trying to defend their questionable actions and those of their ringleader, Action, played by Brubaker. Each verse featured a new soloist with the persona of a different character—whether judge, social worker, doctor or psychologist.

The directors Debra Brubaker and Scott Hochstetler were pleased with the performance.

“It was a delightful program,” said Brubaker, “The process of scenes allows all the participants to actively engage in roles, offering them an opportunity to explore their acting and singing strengths.  And the audience benefits from seeing the ‘best of’ from quite a few operas.  It’s like a sampler of music, history, drama and the talents of G.C. students.”

“I was very pleased with the dramatic and musical growth of our students through this program,” said Hochstetler. “It was also nice to see the enthusiastic audience response with the hurling of flowers on stage—a nice operatic touch!”

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Written by Elspeth Stalter

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