In a flurry of stage props, wardrobe changes, and belting high notes, the Opera Workshop students, under the direction of Dr. Melinda Brou and Allison Ulmer, performed a series of three short operas this weekend, titled “Love, Lust, & Litigation: three charming, though-provoking and hysterically funny one act operas showcasing the many facets of love.”
The performers engaged the audience with powerful voices, exceptional piano playing, and determined conducting for 2 hours. Judging by the accomplished
faces of the performers at the end of the production, it was easy to see that the applause after their countless weeks of preparation proved to be the ultimate reward.
“We prepare throughout the semester,” said Joanna Karen Lara, Music Performance (vocal emphasis) major, “kind of like preparing for a final. We’re studying, getting costumes, getting lines memorized, notes, staging, everything, so when the performance comes, that’s basically your final.”
It’s assumed that opera involves only singing, but that isn’t the case. Acting and character development are a key factor in putting on a great performance.
“The hardest thing is that for those 30 minutes, every second you have to be your character,” said Benny Dominguez, Music Performance (cello string) major. “You can’t just jump in and out because you’re being showcased when you’re singing.”
Mary Rokohl, Music Education (vocal emphasis) major, added that you build your character and become them as soon as your costume goes on.
“It’s a lot of acting,” said Rokohl. “And singing and acting is very hard to do so when you’re done, you should be tired.”
“Love, Lust, and Litigation” was just a short window into the world of opera, exposing the audience to three different one-act operas. Samuel Barber’s A Hand of Bridge, lasted just 10 short minutes, while the other two, Daniel Shore’s An Embarrassing Position and Gilbert Sullivan’s Trial by Jury lasted 30 minutes.
“It’s like a breath of fresh air,” said Eddy Cavazos, Music Performance (Voice Emphasis) major. “You go, you get your dose of opera, and you’re gone. It’s beautiful singing, fun acting, very audience oriented.”
Being able to have the experience at AMK has proved to be a great experience for the performers, most of whom see performance in their futures after graduation.
“We’ve gotten a lot of opportunities here that we never would have gotten in somewhere else,” said Cavazos. “And I know that whether it’s at The Met (Metropolitan Opera), Broadway, or a little café with nobody listening to me, I’m gonna be singing. And I’ll be happy either way.”
The students put on the show a total of four times—evening performances Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with one 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday as well.
“People will come to one show and they’ll come again the next night and the next night,” said Dr. Melinda Brou, Opera Workshop Director. “Opera is the height of art—it combines acting, stage and costume design, dance, orchestra, singing, literature. There is truly something for everyone.”