On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8, the University of Maine’s School of Performing Arts hosted an opera event over the course of two days as the culmination of an opera workshop course. The performances featured a cast of eight students in a total of six scenes with each student participating in two or three of the scenes.
The operas performed included scenes from a variety of time periods and cultures, featuring works by Menotti, Bizet, Poulenc, Rossini and Bernstein. The night provided both emotional and humorous moments, sometimes in the same scenes.
The show opened with the performance of Act 1, Scene 2 of “Il barbiere di Siviglia” by Gioachino Rossini. While not in English, the emotion and motives of the characters Rosina (Dannin Scher) and Figaro (Drew Brooks) were clearly conveyed through the talent of the vocalists. Despite being just one scene from an entire opera, the audience could still see a narrative arc and share the joy of the characters by the end.
Other scenes were less joyous, such as the fourth scene, which was from Act 3 of “Carmen” by Georges Bizet.
“[‘Carmen’] follows the title character in her life as a gypsy after she commits an act of violence and escapes arrest,” performer Brooke Pietri said.
Dannin Scher took the stage again for this scene, playing the role of Carmen. She gave a powerful and emotional vocal display as the three characters played with tarot cards. Though this scene was not in English, the heart-wrenching feelings of Carmen could not be misinterpreted.
Perhaps the most intricate scene performed was “The Consul,” written by Gian Carlo Menotti. The events in the opera follow several people in what is essentially a WWII-era consulate as they try to obtain visas to leave the country. The performance featured the most stage items as well as the entire eight student cast. Rogan Winch gave an especially humorous and theatrical performance as the Magician, fit with classic magic tricks and a hypnotism of the other cast members, who attempted to dazzle the consulate’s secretary into obtaining a visa without any work papers. The climax of the play came with Dana Douglass’ performance of the character Magda who, after desperately pleading with the secretary, ends up throwing papers all over the stage pleading to see the consulate.
After the last piece was performed, which was from Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth, the performers were met with a standing ovation from the audience.
For upcoming events put on by the School of Performing Arts check out their website http://www.umaine.edu/spa or their Facebook page.