Lawrence Opera Scenes should bring something to the stage for everyone, according to musical coach Bonnie Koestner. A variety of works from the Baroque period to the 20th century will be presented, with subject matter ranging from the comic to the dramatic.The performance will include selections from Monteverdi’s “L’ incoronazione di Poppea,” Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale,” and Massenet’s “Manon,” as well as comic scenes from Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus,” Lehar’s “Die Lustige Witwe,” and Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Princess Ida.” An extended scene from Benjamin Britten’s “Albert Herring” will also be performed.
Koestner explains that the Opera Scenes program is “designed to give many students the opportunity to develop their skills in roles that are theatrically and musically interesting and challenging.” That would explain why scenes as different as a defamation of men from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Aida” and the dancing cabaret girls from Lehar’s “The Merry Widow” will all be part of the program.
In addition to providing interesting roles, Opera Scenes gives singers who did not play a main role in the year’s full opera production a chance to shine. Singers gain experience with faculty members they may not have worked with before and learn the specific art of opera. The result is a colorful performance that allows viewers to see a number of Lawrence students in the spotlight.
Students have been rehearsing under the direction of professors Bonnie Koestner, Patrice Michaels, Rico Serbo, and Karen Leigh-Post since the first week of the spring term. The preparation of such a “varied and complex” performance in just eight weeks is a challenge, says Koestner. Nonetheless, junior Becca Herman assures us that a high caliber of singing will be one of the key elements that Opera Scenes has to offer.
The scenes will be presented in full costume and in their original languages, with a distributed program that includes a plot synopsis of each presentation. Numerous Lawrence pianists will accompany the singers, serving as “opera orchestras,” as Koestner puts it. A string ensemble will take part in Monteverdi’s “L’ incoronazione di Poppea.” Opera Scenes selections will include both choral and solo parts, with approximately 50 singers total.
The Opera Scenes performance will take place May 20 at 8 p.m. in Stansbury Theatre.