'The Marriage of Figaro' to be presented
When people hear the word opera, the first thing they think is that they won't understand the lyrics or understand the jokes.
Not a concern with this production of Mozart's comic opera, "The Marriage of Figaro" because the lyrics will be sung in English by an experienced and enthusiastic cast. There will be two 7:30 p.m. performances Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30, in Bemidji State University Thompson Recital Hall of Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex, 14th Street and Birchmont Drive.
Bemidji music lovers are getting a return on their investment in Abe Hunter. In 2009, this young pianist, who wanted to be a collaborative pianist and study in Italy, was awarded a grant from the Bemidji Area Arts Endowment and a couple of fundraisers put him over the top for the necessary funds to get him there.
Hunter studied at La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, an intensive workshop in the art of opera whose participants audition and then are invited to attend. Hunter studied and played for many singers during the day and socialized during the evening with some of the performers. Two of the singers he befriended will join the ensemble, known locally as the Loon Opera Company, for the performances.
"Opera depends upon dual talents; classically trained singers who are also good actors for opera was, and still is, the musical theater of its day," said Barry Sharrock, a tenor who has agreed to perform based upon the friendship he started with Hunter at La Musica Lirica. Sharrock is a retired public school teacher who earned a degree in opera theater and a doctorate in music education at the University of South Carolina. Sharrock will sing two roles in this production: Don Basilio and Don Curzio.
"The U.S. is the only country that wants opera sung in the language in which it is written," Sharrock explained during a recent interview. "In Europe, German opera audiences want to hear Bizet's 'Carmen' in German, for example. The phraseology is sometimes difficult to achieve and the singers need to know when to emphasize a note in order to get the feeling' of a lyric."
Sharrock said he is enjoying his three-week stay in Bemidji with local hosts. Lettie Andrade De La Torre, soprano and female lead, agreed with Sharrock that her stay in Bemidji is pleasant. Both said they felt honored to be asked to perform with Hunter's fledging opera company.
De La Torre, who lived in Niceville, Fla., earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in vocal performance and vocal pedagogy. She is a soloist with the Knoxville Opera Company and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. She also sang the role of Eva Peron at Knoxville's Bijou Theater. De La Torre will sing the female lead as Countess Almaviva with Matthew Goinz as Count Almaviva.
Concordia College graduates Mike and Julia Lamon will play Figaro and Susanna, a couple frantically trying to prepare for their wedding night. Mark Christensen will sing Don Bartolo, Linda Wagner as Marcellina, Karissa Korbel as Cherubino and Jake Konecne, a recent BSU music alumnus, round out the cast.
Instrumental music will be performed by a quartet of string players Michelle Laliberte, Andrew Green and Eric Haugen and pianist Matt Seeberg, a music performance student of Stephen Carlson. Goinz is also the assistant music director of this production. Check out the website at loonoperacompany.com for more information.
Tickets are $25 for orchestra, $20 for balcony and $10 for partially obstructed view (first row of the balcony). To purchase tickets, contact Abe Hunter at Loon Opera Company, 1007 Bemidji Ave., Bemidji, MN 56601 or 368-8805.
This event is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Bemidji Area Arts Endowment, a component fund of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.