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March 2, 2018

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The cast of this year's Opera Workshop "Love and Laughter" performed Feb. 16 and Feb. 18, 2018 in Wine Recital Hall. Dr. Debra Lynn, director of the Opera Workshop, introduced the opera, giving short biographies about each cast member.

Photo provided

Annual Opera Workshop Showcases Student Talent


Avis McGovern 

Manchester University’s Department of Music presented “Love and Laughter” featuring the opera Workshop Players on Friday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Wine Recital Hall.

The cast was made up of 15–25 members, and were directed by Dr. Debra Lynn, associate professor of music, who proposed MU’s first Opera Workshop 11 years ago. The presentation consisted of a 10-minute introductory scene, two 40-minute acts and one 15-minute act.

The first ten-minute scene came from Le Nozze di Fargo (The Marriage of Figaro), with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Following the introduction scene, Lynn appeared in front of the audience to present a slideshow of background information for the following acts.

Her presentation included pictures, names of actors/actresses and clips from professional productions of the works performed by the MU Workshop Players for context.

Lynn also used this 25-minute break not only to allow the cast to arrange the scene for the next act, but to also give a small biography about each cast member and their experience thus far with the program. “I liked that the director came out and addressed that audience about the history of each scene and actor,” said Than Billion, first-year student. “It helped me understand the full essence of each character and I think it allowed everyone else to get a sense of what opera is like beyond just singing. It takes a lot of talent to be able to portray emotions while trying to be on key.”

Act 1 was a 40-minute scene about a Pontevedrian ambassador, Baron Mirko Zeta, throwing a ball with hopes that his poor home country, nearly bankrupt, will be able to receive generous donations. A womanizing aristocrat, Danilo Danilovitch, is pushed to be matched with a widowed millionaire, Hanna Glawari, so that the millions will stay in Pontevedro. With much more drama in the mix, the act is concluded when the ladies’ choice dance is announced, and Hanna selects Danilo. After they banter back and forth flirtatiously, they end up dancing. An intermission was followed by the scene. “The first 40-minute act was my favorite,” said Karly Eichenauer, a first-year. “I was not sure what to expect coming to my first opera, but I was most definitely impressed by how well the cast members were able to open up the first act and be so humorous. The stage set up really sets the scene for the audience as well.”

Act 1 carried over into Act 2, with Hanna preparing for a party at her villa, and Zeto telling Danilo to keep the men away from Hanna and his wife, Camille, so that Danilo can have Hanna to himself to achieve big money in his small home country. The act presses on, with Hanna unable to get Danilo to tell her that he loves her, and she would not marry him until he does. Camille was followed by a suitor who has confessed his love for her with an inscription on a fan that is found by Zeta. Zeta then sets out to find the suitor whom he believes is writing to Hanna.

In Act 3, all men, except Danilo, have lost sight of Hanna and her money. Camille reveals that the fan with the inscription of “I love you” is hers, and she wrote the suitor back saying, “I am a respectable wife.” Zeta reads the fan and is happy his wife has been true to him. Hanna and Danilo proceed to get married and all men exit the scene go on with their ladies.

“The opera was fantastic,” said Tyler Pruitt, a sophomore. “I never really heard singing like that until now and am amazed that my fellow peers were able to sing so well like that in front of a crowd with no microphones. It definitely felt like a professional opera.”

Senior Erin Cordill said: “I think everyone was amazed by how well the cast member did singing together. Although I do not know how to sing, or act, it was great getting to see students and people in the community who have worked so hard have a great turnout in the audience and manage to seem like they weren’t nervous.”

The night concluded with a bow from the cast members, and an opportunity for audience members to congratulate cast members on their performances.