News Release

Southeastern cast showcases double bill opera Feb. 3-6

Contact: Elise Doster


     HAMMOND – Theatergoers will receive two shows for the price of one during the Southeastern Louisiana University Opera/Music Theatre Workshop productions of “Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi” Feb. 3-6, 7:30 p.m., at the university’s Pottle Music Building Auditorium. 
     Written by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, the night’s music will feature a duo of one-act operas originally created by Puccini as part of an opera trio. Although the university has performed “Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi” over the years, Opera/Music Theatre Workshop director Chuck Effler said Southeastern has never performed the operas together. 
     “An evening of Puccini, one of the most popular composers of opera, seemed a fitting contribution as Opera Workshop continues to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Department of Music and Dramatic Arts,” said Effler.
     Led by guest director Rachel Harris of Baton Rouge and performed in English, Southeastern senior Blair Abene of Hammond and first-year graduate student Colby McCurdy have been cast in the title roles.
     Tickets for the show may be purchased at the door one hour prior to each performance. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, and $12 for seniors, Southeastern faculty, staff, alumni and non-Southeastern students. Southeastern students will be admitted free with their university I.D. card.
     Set in the late 1700s, “Suor Angelica” is a tale of a young woman who has a baby out of wedlock. After her noble family banishes her to a convent for bringing disgrace upon the family, the only thing that keeps Sister Angelica hopeful is the thought of her seven-year-old son. Sister Angelica learns, when her aunt visits to take away her inheritance rights, that her son died two years earlier. Devastated and heartbroken by the news, Sister Angelica makes a decision that may doom her eternal fate, not just as a mother, but also as a woman of God. 
     “Gianni Schicchi” is a humorous tale of a family stricken with greed, fighting over a dead man’s riches in the late 1200s. After the death of Buoso Donati, his family hears a rumor that the old man has left his fortune to the church. The family learns the rumor is true, and they try desperately to think of a way to fix the dilemma and fill their pockets. With a reputation of being extremely clever, the family calls upon the help of peasant Gianni Schicchi to devise a plot to return Donati’s fortune to the family. Although Schicchi holds up his end of the bargain, it is not without a little trickery of his own. 
     Effler will conduct the operas, while Department of Music and Dramatic Arts faculty and staff members Steve Schepker (set design), Ellen Sovkoplas (lighting design) and Richard Walsh (costume design) will lend their expertise to the productions. Caleb Courtney of Hammond will act as stage manager.
     In addition to Abene, the “Suor Angelica” cast includes Prairieville native Amanda Tarver, who sang the role of the Princess in “Suor Angelica” as a student in 2000. Tarver recently completed a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Roosevelt University in Chicago and has been an apprentice with the Chicago Opera Theatre since 2007. 
     Also appearing are Sommer Brewton of Hammond and Whitney Vickers of Ponchatoula, who will alternate the roles of the abbess and mistress of novices; Maggie Probst of Mandeville as the monitor; Sarah Bertrand of Bush and Baylie Stillwell of Mandeville as Sister Genevieve; Kelly Todd of Houma as Sister Osmina; Mary Marlbrough of Covington as Sister Dolcina; Allison Joiner of Ponchatoula as the nursing sister; Alyssa Carranza of Lafayette and Karista Filopoulos of Abita Springs as the tourieres; Courtney Himbert of Kenner, Miriam McConnell of Hammond and Katherine Smith of Slidell as the novices; Kaylee Broussard of Destrehan and Amanda Lucas of Albany as the lay sisters, and six year old Jacob Starkey of Loranger as Angelica’s son.
     Joining McCurdy in “Giannia Schicchi” is Kayla Louis of Ponchatoula and Keturah Turner of Hammond as Lauretta; Fiona Allen of Jackson as Zita; Dustin Johnson of Covington as Rinuccio; Joshua Williams of Mandeville as Gherardo; Danielle Willie of Ponchatoula as Nella; Trey Miller of Deville as Betto; Grady Sandidge of Abita Springs as Simone; Benjamin Thomas of Ponchatoula as Marco; Bridget Lyons of Ponchatoula and Cara Williams of Franklinton as Ciesca; LeMorris Hunt of Holly Springs, Miss. as Spinelloccio; Damian Faul of Amite as Nicolao; Jordan Leggett of Slidell as Pinellino; Kyle Brian of Denham Springs and Eric Zeringue of Raceland as Guiccio. Nine-year-old Andrew Woodrich and Dylan Walsworth, 10, both of Walker, will alternate the role of Gherardino.
     For more information about the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop contact Chuck Effler at

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