Saturday, February 8, 2014

There's Nothing Like Mozart to Draw a Crowd

I live and work in a small community that is home to a major state university. While our university is large, and does have active and thriving arts and humanities departments, it is not known for them. It is primarily an agricultural university with a very large and popular sports program, especially when it comes to football and basketball. Right now we are in the middle of basketball season and I can tell you that on home game days, there is not a parking place to be found anywhere near or on campus. The town is almost literally shut down with the traffic. That's why it's so remarkable that while all of this is going on, one can still walk into the Seretean Center (which houses the music and theater departments), on a Friday night and find the large concert hall nearly packed out for an uncut student performance of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, sung in Italian, presented by the Oklahoma State University Music Department students and faculty.

I can also tell you that this production was one of the finest student productions of Figaro, that I have ever experienced, and believe me, I have seen many productions of Figaro, both professional and student. And in many respects, this student performance rivaled some of the professional productions that I have not only
seen, but in which I have performed. The orchestra was superb, the Italian diction was impeccable (and those Mozart recitatives are a bear), the singing and acting were magnificent. Although they were all outstanding, the standout performances for me were given by senior voice major, Bill Sheets as Count Almaviva, senior voice major, Lydia Bechtel, as Mozart's darling Susanna, and sophomore voice major, Brittany Wright, who charmed and delighted us all as the lovesick Cherubino. And special kudos to the principal bassoonist, Zac Bohanan, who carried off one of the most difficult and active bassoon parts in all of opera with professional finesse.

One other thing that this performance tells me: Opera is not dead. If you could have been in that concert hall last night and experienced the utter delight of that audience, heard the laughter, the cheering, the "Bravos" and "Bravas", the enthusiastic applause, and seen the energy, professionalism, and excitement of the
performers, there would be no doubt in your mind that as long as there are people who keep performing opera, there will be an audience. I have never known anything by Mozart that doesn't draw a crowd.

Bravo, OSU Music Department! You absolutely delighted this lover of Mozart!

P.S. For any locals who want to catch this performance, it is also being played tonight (Saturday, February 8th), with a second cast at the OSU Seretean Center concert hall. Curtain is at 7:30. General admission tickets are only $8.00 and $6.00 for senior citizens. Such a low price for such quality entertainment.

Photo Credit: S.K. Waller

UPDATE 2/9/14: We decided to attend the Saturday night performance so that we could see it with the second cast. Special recognition goes to Bernardo Medeiros for his outstanding performance in the title role of Figaro and to Renae Perry for her hilarious rendition of Marcellina. Well-done!

© K. Lynette Erwin, 2014

No comments :

Post a Comment