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Opera is the full thing

HSU’s Opera Workshop exposes students to creative works of the past

The opera workshop class brought the brilliant works of Mozart to life this weekend as they performed a variety of acts at the Fulkerson Hall last weekend.

As many know, opera is a difficult type of vocal performance. Not only do you have to keep up with intense vocal ranges, but you have to show the right emotions with facial expressions and body language.

With one semester and only two days out of the week to practice, the opera workshop students delivered an impressive performance that captured the phenomenal work of Mozart.

The opera workshop conveyed the musical art of Mozart from classics like “Don Giovanni,” “The Magic Flute,” and “Le nozze di Figaro.” Because these pieces are all at least two hours long, the students gave the audience short snippets of the beautiful acts that are featured in the actual plays.

Vocal Professor Elisabeth Harrington has directed many musicals and performances here at HSU, and was thrilled to see what her students produced this year. They were able to take the audience through a magical journey that highlighted the wonderful works of Mozart. Though we cannot thank Mozart for creating such vivid and real characters, we can thank him for bringing their ideals to life with wonderful music.

“This is the work of Bill Marchet, a French playwright,” Harrington said. “So we can’t give him credit for writing the characters who questioned the culture of the time, who questioned the caste system, the social limitations but one of the first composers to do that with music was Mozart.”

The students were busy all semester practicing complex characters and unfamiliar vocal ranges, all in Italian as well. Nevertheless, the students overcame the challenges.

“It’s pretty amazing how it comes together quickly, and they all had to learn it in Italian,” Harrington said. “Unlike typical full-length shows, we don’t meet every night, we only meet two nights a week from 5 to 6:50 as a class.”

Harrington was delighted to work with a new set of students this semester and to see what they produced in such a short time period was even more rewarding.

“They’re wonderful, they’re so open and for most of them it offers a very new thing and so I appreciate the willingness with which they embark on this journey,” Harrington said. “It’s hard to prepare for something that they’ve never done before, most of them are music majors who have taken Opera for a few years now but for some this is their first time.”

For HSU student Helen Kimber this entire workshop has been exciting, and she is always learning. Kimber has been working with Opera for over three years and it really showed during the performance. She had a powerful yet delicate voice that expressed betrayal, love and a bit of cleverness with each character she played. Kimber is always learning with every performance she does.

“It’s a never ending learning experience,” Kimber said.

Others who took part in the performance made it hard to take your eyes off of the stage. With comedic roles delivered by students Dylan Kinser and Stella Yuan, whimsical harmonies created by Haley Rhouault, Madeline Bauman and Maude Jaeb and entertaining characters presented by Samuel Brown, Victor Guerrero, Christian Flores and Brandon Barbosa.

The costumes were definitely a sight to behold. High-class gowns and suits made of colorful sequins really gave dimensions to each character.

John Chernoff played the piano flawlessly and set the mood for each scene. The Opera workshop was able to pull off a great performance that showed a variety of captivating musical works that are not easy to perform.

The students were able to accomplish such a difficult task in such a short amount of time is a testament to their dedication to the craft.

The Opera Workshop is always an exciting course for Harrington to teach as it exposes students to something that has so much depth within it.

“Opera is that beautiful blend between singing everything that you’re doing but also being responsible for telling the story with your face, with your hands, with your body, and interacting with other characters,” Harrington said. “Opera is the full thing.”

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