(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.