Lawrence students passionately perform Handel’s “Alcina”

Students perform Handel's 1753 opera "Alcina." Photo by Kai Frueh.

Lawrence University’s students will be performing Handel’s 1753 opera “Alcina.” The show is directed by Copeland Woodruff, Director of Opera Studies and Associate Professor of Music, and conducted by Kristin Roach, Assistant Professor of Music. “Alcina” will open on Thursday, March 2 and close Sunday, March 5 in Stansbury Theater. The show is sung entirely in Italian, with English subtitles projected on a spot above the stage. Because performing an opera is physically taxing, there will be two casts performing the show, alternating nights so as to not risk damaging the cast members’ voices. 

Juniors Caroline Huber (front) and Casey Joan Kollman (back) perform as Alcina and Ruggiero. Photo by Kai Frueh.

“Alcina” takes place in the realm of the two sorcerers Alcina and Morgana, which is portrayed as a circus in this production. The story follows a woman named Bradamante, who goes to Alcina and Morgana’s realm to find her fiancé, Ruggiero. Disguised as a man and with the aid of Ruggiero’s tutor, Melisso, Bradamante is shocked to find out that Ruggiero was seduced by Alcina. Meanwhile, Morgana leaves her husband, Oronte, after falling in love with Bradamante (whom she thinks is a man), and a boy named Oberto is looking for his father, who was turned into a beast by Alcina. After multiple gender-bending shenanigans, love triangles and arias, all these plots converge and end when Alcina is finally defeated and the people she cursed are freed. 

Students perform Handel’s 1753 opera “Alcina.” Photo by Kai Frueh.

This is a massive production, with many students and staff members working together to make the show perfect both on- and offstage. On the nights leading up to the dress rehearsal, there were tech rehearsals, where Professor Woodruff worked with the cast and crew to make sure that everyone knew their cues and had their stage directions locked in. From quick costume changes to complicated set movements, those nights were to ensure that any major mistake that could be made would be caught and corrected before opening night. 

Kristin Roach, conductor and music director, conducts the pit orchestra. The musicians play in the period style along with using techniques and instruments from that era. Photo by Kai Frueh.

Junior Caroline Huber plays the titular character, Alcina, in the Friday and Sunday shows. She explained how long and rigorously the cast and crew worked on the show, with work on the production starting in September of 2022. When asked what the rehearsal process was like, Huber said that the performers “began the last term with communication exercises, Baroque Opera analysis and learning recitative and arias. We started the process of staging at the beginning of Winter Term.” 

Junior Addison Littlefield sings a solo as Morgana. Photo by Kai Frueh.

Everyone involved has done an incredible job coming together to bring this story to life. The students who designed and created the set were amazing at setting the atmosphere for the show. The students in the orchestra all do an incredible job keeping up with the performers on stage while working together to all play the same notes at the same time. The people in charge of lighting and sound design do a great job setting the atmosphere and making the audience feel like they are inside the world of the story. The stage crew are able to seamlessly move props, change scenes and move the screens, which adds more dimension and movement on the stage. Finally, the performers themselves all do a fantastic job in their performances. Each and every student on stage has an incredible voice, and it is clear that they have a passion for this art form. They know the show inside and out and all worked extremely hard to spread their love of opera to Lawrence and the community of Appleton. 

Go see Lawrence University’s performance of Handel’s “Alcina” if you have the chance, and support your fellow students who worked long and tirelessly to make this show come to life!