Southeastern to stage two short operas by Dan Shore

Thursday, February 1, 2018
by: Tonya Lowentritt

     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University’s Opera/Music Theatre Workshop will present two short operas by American composer Dan Shore. “Works of Mercy” and “Bridegroom” will both be staged nightly on Feb. 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Hammond.
     A tragedy, “Works of Mercy” was composed in 2002 while Shore was a graduate student in composition at the New England Conservatory of Music. Premiered by conservatory students, the opera is based on the play “Vestire gli ignudi” (Clothing the Naked) by Luigi Pirandello.
     “Pirandello’s premise is that everyone presents a slightly different persona depending on who they are with at the time, and that it is sometimes difficult to reconcile all the different versions,” said Director of Opera/Music Theatre Workshop Chuck Effler.  “In ‘Works of Mercy’ each of the five characters are introduced or are sung about in one way, but that presentation is superseded by another as the opera progresses. By the end of the opera, the viewer can hardly comprehend that the person they see is the same person to which they were originally introduced.”
     The opera features beautiful but often haunting motives, melodies and harmonies, Effler said. This production by Opera Workshop is the first complete production of the opera, aside from its premier in 2002, and the first complete production to use an orchestra instead of piano.
According to Effler, “The Beautiful Bridegroom” is completely different.
     “Based on an 18th-century play by Ludvig Holberg, this farcical Mozart pastiche tells the story of a widow who has been searching for a young husband, not for her two marriageable daughters, but for herself,” Effler said.
     “Bridegroom” was written for a 2009 chamber opera competition sponsored by the National Opera Association and received first prize. It has been produced over 25 times since its premiere in Boston, Effler added.
     Roles in “The Beautiful Bridegroom” include Caitlyn Rodrigue of Thibodaux as Terentia, a wealthy widow; Hannah Turner of Central as Perrille, her maid; Hannah Orgeron of Boutte as Laurentia, the eldest daughter; Vivian McCalman of Mandeville and Haylee Zeringue of Prairieville as Leonora, the younger daughter; Sara Cage of Baton Rouge and Christina Duffaut of Slidell as Madame Kirsten, the matchmaker; and Anne Labranche of Abita Springs and Claire Putnam of Covington as Von Frauenliebe, the bridegroom.
     Primary roles in “Works of Mercy” include Ryan Blanchfield of Baton Rouge as Ludovico Nota, a well-known writer; Deondra Bell also of Baton Rouge and Mary Vince of Pearl River as Mrs. Onoria, his landlady; Elizabeth Langley of Mandeville as Ersilia Drei, the governess; Alfred Harper of Baton Rouge as Alfredo Cantavalle, a journalist; Brennan Simmons of Walker as Franco Laspiga, a former naval lieutenant; and Wesley Newton of Bourg as Consul Grotti, the Consul General.
     Department of Music and Performing Arts faculty member Charles Effler will serve as the music director and conductor, while staff member Benjamin Norman will design the lighting. Department of Visual Arts + Design faculty member Emily Billington is responsible for costume design, and guest stage director Rachel M. Harris celebrates her 10th year of directing operas at Southeastern with these productions.
     Tickets are available at the Columbia Theatre box office, located at 220 E. Thomas Street in downtown Hammond. The box office hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and one hour prior to curtain time. Ticket prices are $21 for adults; $16 for seniors, Southeastern faculty and staff, and non-Southeastern students; and $8 for children 12 and younger. Southeastern students are admitted free of charge with their university ID. For ticket information, contact the box office at 985-543-4371.

More News...