ISU Headlines

Opera take stage March 30 at Stephens Center

Posted March 26, 2007

Taking the L.E. and Thelma E Stephens Performing Arts Center’s Joseph C. and Cheryl H. Jensen Grand Concert Hall stage for the first time, Opera ISU presents dramatic moments from the 18th through the 20th centuries in a workshop setting Friday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m.

The evening features a complete one-act chamber opera, Samuel Barber’s 1959 “A Hand of Bridge.” According to general director Kathleen A. Lane, the inner monologues of a bridge foursome impart urgency to seemingly banal interactions.

“Like so many artists during the 1950s, Barber became fascinated by psychoanalysis,” Lane says. “These two married couples meet nightly for cards, yet remain terribly isolated.    “As repressed impulses surface from these characters’ streams of consciousness, adult themes emerge,” she adds. “Even though this opera has been in the standard repertory since the ‘50s, it might not be suitable for young children.”

A total of 40 singers will perform excerpts from “Orpheus and Eurydice,” by Gluck; “The Magic Flute,” by Mozart; “The Barber of Seville,” by Paisiello; “La Cenerentola,” by Rossini; “Der Freischuetz,” by Weber”; “Der Fliegende Hollander,” by  Wagner; “La Traviata,” by Verdi; “Street Scene,” by Kurt Weill; “The Rape of Lucretia,” by Benjamin Britten; and “The Old Maid and the Thief,” by Gian Carlo Menotti.According to Lane, programs of assorted scenes are only possible in alternating years when Opera ISU is not mounting a full production.

“Our singers need this opportunity to experience a broader range of roles,” she points out.“When we stage a full production, not everyone can be the star, and so talented singers sometimes end up underutilized,” Lane notes. “For that matter, a student who isn’t ready to master a landmark role like Violetta in ‘La Traviata’ can grow vocally and dramatically by tackling a demanding scene from it."

”The entire cast feels the excitement of bringing Opera ISU to Jensen Hall for the first time," she says.“This stage has acoustics to rival the Metropolitan Opera or La Scala. Only faculty members and other professionals give solo recitals in Jensen, so this will be the first time our students feel the thrill of performing here as soloists.”