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The Telephone and Dido and Aeneas were the recent SIUE News Feature Story.

SIUE Opera Theater To Present Two Operas March 27-28

(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Opera Theater will perform two operas-Menotti's The Telephone and Henry Purcell's Dido and Æneas-at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 27-28, in the theater at SIUE's Dunham Hall. The performances also will feature the SIUE Chamber Orchestra under the musical direction of SIUE Music Professor Michael Mishra and stage direction by SIUE Assistant Music Professor Marc Schapman.

"I'm really proud of the work everyone has done thus far preparing these shows," Schapman said. "This production encompasses a great leap for SIUE Opera Theater and the growth of the vocal area in the Department of Music." Schapman also points out that the casts include very talented vocal performance majors from the Department. "The evening will showcase our finest talents in the vocal area as well as our very talented orchestral musicians," Schapman said. "All the cast members have worked extremely hard and I greatly appreciate their efforts."

In the Menotti, Schapman explained that Ben, bearing a gift, comes to visit Lucy at her apartment; he wants to propose to her before he leaves on a trip. "Despite his attempts to get her attention for sufficient time to ask his question, Lucy is occupied with interminable conversations on the telephone," Schapman said. "Between her calls, when Lucy leaves the room, Ben even tries to cut the telephone cord, unsuccessfully. Not wanting to miss his train, Ben leaves without asking Lucy for her hand in marriage, but makes one last attempt: he calls Lucy from a telephone booth outside on the street and makes his proposal. She consents, and the two join in a romantic duet over the phone line, at the end of which Lucy makes sure that Ben remembers her phone number."

Graduate music student Natalie Pannier, a cast member in the 17th Century Purcell work, said the experience of working with talented performers and musicians has been enjoyable. "We had to force ourselves to step outside the box with various acting exercises," Pannier said. "Whether it was doing improv or monologues, I think everyone pushed themselves this semester, and had a lot of fun doing it. "I always looked forward to rehearsals; it never felt like work. From the other singers, to the accompanists, to our director, Dr. Schapman, this was a wonderful group of people to collaborate with. New friendships were obtained, old ones were made stronger, and we have fabulous operas to share with our audiences."

In the Purcell, the audience will be transported to ancient Carthage and Troy for a love story filled with cunning, treachery and witchcraft. The Queen of Carthage Dido and the Trojan warrior Æneas are at the center of conflicts between the two cities. Undergraduate vocal performance major Keith Wehmeier, who plays the spirit in the Purcell, pointed out: "Typically, Dido and Æneas is staged in a very traditional and somewhat static format. We are really putting a spin on the staging and providing the audience with a more contemporary, interpretive, and involved performance. I believe everyone will enjoy it."

Tickets are $5; senior citizens, $3; SIUE students are free with a valid SIUE ID. For more information, call the Fine Arts box office, (618) 650-2774. Also, visit the SIUE Opera Theater Web site: www.siue.edu/artsandsciences/music/opera for information.

Disconnected Love was title of the feature story in the SIUE Alestle

Junior vocal performance major Curtis Cave from Ashland called his involvement in Opera Theater a kind of fluke.

"When I was little I never sang, but I just kind of got into (singing) around my junior year of high school," Cave said.

Cave plays Ben in Gian Carlo Menotti's "The Telephone" and Aeneas in Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" for the SIUE Opera Theater performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Dunham Hall Theater.

Cave said he was asked to audition for SIUE Opera Theater his freshman year by the late music professor Sandra Bouman and has been involved since.

"I have fun every year," Cave said. "You meet a lot of new and talented people every year."

"The Telephone" is a one-act comedy featuring only two characters, Ben and Lucy, who can't get through a conversation without Lucy being distracted by telephone calls.

Director of SIUE Opera Theater Marc Schapman said "The Telephone" is an accessible show for first time opera-goers because of its nature.

"The show is all about Ben and Lucy, and she has this overt , obscene obsession with the telephone," Schapman said.

Throughout the course of the performance Ben attempts to ask Lucy to marry him before he has to catch a train to leave town. However, the two are constantly interrupted by the telephone.

"Every time he gets enough gumption to ask that question, he gets interrupted by her drug of choice," Schapman said. "He actually has to call her to get that across to her."

The act ends with Ben and Lucy singing a duet and Lucy making Ben promise to remember her in a non-traditional fashion.

Although Cave will perform in both shows this weekend, he said performing in a smaller show like "The Telephone" tends to create more tension for the individual actors.

"There's a little more pressure because it's just you and one other person," Cave said. "There's no one else to distract (the audience) from your mistakes."

Although being only one of two actors on stage can become stressful, Cave said the rewards could be just as great.

"If you do really (well) then you only have to share the applause with two other people, the actor and the accompanist," Cave said.

Schapman said "Dido and Aeneas" was both a love story and a tragedy. Dido is the queen of Carthage and Aeneas is from Troy, which has just been destroyed. Aeneas offers himself to Dido to rebuild a monarchy. However, after their wedding a sorceress, who wants to destroy Dido, tells Aeneas he must leave Carthage and found a new city. He then tells Dido and leaves to found Rome.

Freshman vocal performance major Mikaela Sullivan from Normal plays Belinda, who Sullivan refers to as Dido's handmaiden.

Dido is in a state of depression when Aeneas leaves to found Rome, and Sullivan conveys those thoughts to the audience.

"I'm kind of the branch between the regular world … and the thoughts going on in (Dido's) head," Sullivan said.

This week marks technical rehearsals for the cast and crew as they finish preparing for the show. Sullivan said she feels ready for this weekend's performances.

"Usually during tech week, you're freaking out," Sullivan said. "But right now I feel pretty calm and collected."

Schapman said he is certain they are ready for the production, but tells his actors not to get "too comfortable" with the piece.

"(I) want them to make it a new and organic production every time (they) perform," Schapman said. "I expect to see two good (shows) and I hope to see two different productions this weekend."

Tickets to "The Telephone" and "Dido and Aeneas" are free for SIUE students with a valid Cougar Card. General admission tickets are $5 and tickets for senior citizens are $3. For more information contact the Fine Arts Box Office at 650-2774.

An Afternoon of Opera was a recent feature story in the SIUE Alestle.

Below is the full story by Rachel Snow.

According to vocal performance graduate student Natalie Pannier, opera is not just for the musician. It is sheer entertainment for the audience.

Scenes from several different operas will be showcased this weekend for "An Afternoon of Opera." The concerts are in Dunham Hall Choir Room at 2 p.m. on Dec. 12 and 13. The performances are free for everyone.

The concert will feature SIUE vocalists in operatic selections from "Candide," "The Marriage of Figaro," "The Barber of Seville," "Così fan tutte," "Die Fledermaus," "Don Giovanni," "Carmen," "The Magic Flute" and "The Bartered Bride."

SIUE Opera Theater showcases its youngest and most mature singers. Scenes are provided for freshmen through graduate students to showcase their respective vocal and dramatic abilities.

Senior vocal performance major Allison Wamser is performing in this weekend's opera show.

"I'm a vocal performance major and this is something that is part of the major," Wamser said.

Music professor Marc Schapman, director of SIUE Opera Theater, said he was excited for this semester's workshop.

"The singers have worked extremely hard and tackled a multitude of languages, including French, Italian and English," Schapman said.

Wamser is in a scene from "Carmen," "Così fan tutte" and "The Bartered Bride."

"Trying to get inside the character's head involves a lot of creativity," Wamser said.

Every fall the SIUE Opera Theater offers students an opera workshop course to develop presentation skills in short opera scenes. Schapman said students learn about studying a role, developing a character, and other fundamentals of being a good actor. Students are also taught about casting in the world of opera.

Schapman said the performer's natural voice and physical appearance will determine what he or she should study, and how their stagecraft and musical skill will affect prospects.

Senior music business major Michelle Palm is not the typical opera performer.

"I am more of a musical theater singer, but I am glad that I did the opera this semester because it has opened my vocal genre even more," Palm said. "Both opera and musical theater are trying to tell a story, so how you act while singing is very important."

Pannier said the opera this semester is not one full production.

Pannier said the show makes up many small clips from different operas and includes a combination of solos, duets, and quintets.

"It's a lot of fun," Pannier said. "You get to work with a lot of talented people."

Pannier said most performances only include two or three actors at a time. She is involved with "Carmen" and "The Marriage of Figaro."

For more information on SIUE Opera Theater or upcoming productions, visit the Opera Theater Web site at www.siue. edu/artsandsciences/music/opera.


An Evening of One-Act Operas was the feature story in the SIUE News.

Matthew Newlin

SIUE Opera Theater To Present Three One-Acts March 27-28

(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) Two sheepherders fall deeply in love ... two couples reveal personal longings while playing a friendly game of bridge ... a chambermaid seduces her master into marriage-could these scenarios come from some bizarre late night cable TV show?

Perhaps, but in this instance we're referring to three one-act operas to be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, March 27-28, all by the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Opera Theater on the mainstage at the theater in SIUE's Katherine Dunham Hall. The works to be performed are Mozart's Bastien und Bastienne, A Hand of Bridge by Samuel Barber and Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona. "There is something for everyone in this evening of music and drama," says SIUE Opera Theater Director Marc Schapman. "These three works will provide an evening of hilarity in addition to wonderful music."

Schapman, who is an assistant professor of music at SIUE, also points out that the casts include very talented current vocal performance majors from the SIUE Department of Music, as well as guest performers and former Opera Theater alumni Joe Drexelius and Katrina Bradley. "The evening will showcase our finest talents in the vocal area of the department as well as our very talented orchestral musicians," Schapman said. "We are very proud to feature our alums Katrina and Joe, but all the cast members have worked extremely hard and I am proud of their efforts, too."

As for the story lines, Schapman said love and laughter and drama play a big part in these three masterpieces. In the Mozart, Bastienne pines for her sweetheart Bastien who has left for the city. "As Bastienne has been tending her sheep, Bastien is seduced by the big city and a wealthy lady," the director explains. "When Bastien returns, Bastienne plays hard-to-get and the young man contemplates suicide. The two sheepherders eventually put aside pretense and profess their mutual love for each other."

Barber wrote A Hand of Bridge in 1959 with a libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti. "It's one of the shortest operas regularly performed," Schapman said. "It consists of two couples playing bridge with each character performing an arietta, or short monologue," he said. The soprano admits disdain for her mother who now lays dying; the contralto recalls a hat she saw in a shop window earlier that day; the tenor recalls an ex-lover and wonders where she is now, and the baritone fantasizes about what he would do if he were wealthy.

Finally, La Serva Padrona focuses on Zerbina, the chambermaid, who deceives her master, Dr. Pandolfo, into marriage. "The story combines pantomime, music and comedy," Schapman points out.

The director said the students are enjoying the experience. "Senior vocal performance major Matthew Newlin, who is portraying Bastien, is excellent in the part and is a good example of the kind of talent we have here at SIUE," Schapman said. Newlin explains that the Opera Theater experience at SIUE allows students to refine skills as "singing actors," both practically in performance and "intellectually" through character preparation and a term paper, which is part of the project. "Bastien und Bastienne is shaping up to be a light, charming opera in which we can see the development of Mozart's ultimate operatic writing style," Newlin said.

"He was, after all, only 12 when he wrote it."

Graduate student LaVell Thompson Jr. said his part in the Barber has been a great learning experience. "As we (the cast) have been spending time with the opera, the characters are truly beginning to come to life."

Opera Theater pianist Dolly Hsu said this is her first time playing piano for three entire operas in one evening. "These three light operas, in the form of operetta ranging from 18th century intermezzi to 20th century chamber opera, present human affectations in many different ways."

Tickets are $5; senior citizens, $3; SIUE students are free with a valid SIUE ID. For more information, call the Fine Arts box office, (618) 650-2774. Also, visit the SIUE Opera Theater Web site: www.siue.edu/artsandsciences/music/opera for information.

Katrina Bradley

SIUE Opera Theater was also a feature in the SIUE paper, The Alestle.

Months of study, preparation and rehearsal will culminate next week for a group of SIUE vocal majors and alumni when they take to the stage to present An Evening of One Act Operas. The production will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 27 and 28 in Dunham Hall Theater.

Composed of three comedic based operas, the performance will feature university undergraduates and graduates, as well as alumni Katrina Bradley and Joe Drexelius.

According to Marc Schapman, director of SIUE Opera Theater, The Opera Workshop course offered on campus teaches students various presentation skills. Members of this course participate in on-campus productions at the end of the semester. If possible, the group travels to nearby venues including Edwardsville High School.

"You will learn about studying a role, developing a character and other fundamentals of being a good actor," Schapman said. "We will also teach you about casting in the world of opera: how your natural voice and physical appearance determine what you should study and how your stagecraft and musical skill affect your prospects."

The pieces, "La Serva Padrona" by Giovanna Battista Pergolesi, "A Hand of Bridge" by Samuel Barber and "Bastien und Bastienne" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, include a wide range of subjects including pre-marital conflict, personal regret and magic.

"Portraying Bastienna in Mozart's 'Little Opera' has been a wonderful experience," graduate student Erin Haupt said. "She is a wholesome and pure character that I don't think we often see these days. As the story develops so does she, and we are able to watch her leave her naivety behind."

Barber's "A Hand of Bridge" is a nine-minute piece that depicts two couples revealing their inner conflicts while playing a card game.

"The music in 'A Hand of Bridge' has been tricky. Geraldine's role is full of tritones," graduate student Crystal Cole said. "The tritones are fit for Geraldine since her life, like tritones, is a bit unpleasant. All she wants to do is love and be loved."

Schapman worked with a number of students throughout the semester and is satisfied with the labor they put forth for the production.

"It has been a pleasure working with these talented singers," Schapman said. "I have had the opportunity to watch each individual grow immensely vocally and dramatically. I'm proud of their work ethic and progress."

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are being sold at the SIUE box office in Dunham Hall. General admission tickets are $5, and senior citizen tickets are $3. All SIUE students receive complimentary tickets with a valid school ID.

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