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Students show humor of opera

The Lamont School of Music’s graduate voice students staged a unique and hilarious performance of “Too Many Sopranos,” a two-act opera that parodies many of the stereotypes about opera singers, over the weekend.

This kind of production is not typical of the Lamont School during the spring season. The idea came during the fall quarter when the graduate class was faced with a problem: too many sopranos. In fact, the graduate voice class of 2013 is made up of only sopranos. This unfortunately meant that the majority of the singers didn’t have a chance for a role on the main stage. Their solution was to put on this special production, which gave them each a chance to play a main role.

The story follows four sopranos who discover that they are dead. In order to sing in God’s chorus, they must audition because there is only one space available. St. Peter, who must judge their auditions, cannot make a decision. He tells the sopranos that they can all join the chorus if they can get more tenors and basses to keep the voice-parts even. Unfortunately, most of the tenors and basses, all males, have been sent to hell. Unwilling to lose the chance to get into the chorus, the sopranos agree to travel to hell and commit a selfless act in order to redeem the men and allow them to join the chorus.

The performance mercilessly mocked numerous stereotypes of operatic singers. Each soprano role characterized a stereotypical soprano. Miss Titmouse was the fluttering coloratura soprano who brags that she can hit any note. Dame Doleful, as you might have guessed, was melodramatic to the extreme. Just Jeanette was ditzy and oblivious. Madame Pompous brought to life the popular stereotype of the operatic soprano. During one memorable moment of the performance, she even donned a Viking helmet, breastplate and spear.

Kevin Padworski, a grad student majoring in choral conducting, played St. Peter, the one charged with judging the sopranos. In the beginning of the opera, he sings a hilarious song about what to expect when the soprano-divas arrive. Other men were featured in the performance as well. Grad student and vocal performance major Amra Tomsic performed the role of Enrico Carouser, a playboy-tenor who manipulates his way into the arms of every woman he meets. Sophomore Matt SuavCB), majoring in vocal performance, played the “Unnamed Bass,” a role which mocks how basses tend to be less well-known in the opera community. Senhica Klee, a junior vocal performance major,  played Nelson Deadly, a tenor with whom Just Jeanette falls in love.

One of the most entertaining characters, however, was Gabriel the Angel, played by Tim Girard, a composition graduate student at Lamont. The role was silent, but Girard put on a hilarious performance.

Most of the comedic elements came from the dialogue and lyrics. Unfortunately, there were many points where it was nearly impossible to understand what the singers were saying. Perhaps this is to be expected when so much vibrato is involved, but still frustrating when there were likely hilarious lines passing the audience by.

The show was filled with references to other operas and stereotypes, such as the Sandman character from the opera HCB$nsel and Gretel played by Danielle Gillespie. Many of these references musically might have gone over some of the audience members’ heads, but this didn’t diminish the performance in the least.

Over all, “Too Many Sopranos” was a comedic performance, put on by talented singers unafraid to embrace a little self-mockery.

Friday’s  performance featured Siqin Zhao as Dame Doleful, Carolyn HCB6hle as Madame Pompous, Mary Haughie as Miss Titmouse and Kathleen Ferriss as Just Jeanette. Saturday’s performance featured Teleri Gee as Dame Doleful, Michelle Mendoza as Madame Pompous, Teresa Castillo as Miss Titmouse and Erin Kelly Clack as Just Jeanette.

Other characters include Guard (Orson) played by sophomore Julian RamCB-rez. Ben Clark was featured as pianist.

 

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About Author: Skye Savage

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