CORVALLIS - The Oregon State University Opera Workshop will present "An Evening of Mostly Comic Opera Scenes" on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 7:30 p.m. The program takes place in 202 Benton Hall on the OSU campus. General admission is $5, with no charge to OSU students with ID.
Students from the OSU Opera Workshop will perform scenes, in their original languages, from works by Mozart, Gilbert and Sullivan, Barber, Pergolesi, and von Flotow. David Howell, familiar to Corvallis audiences both as a singer and stage director, directs the performers. Commentary by Richard Poppino, OSU's director of vocal studies, will set the scenes. OSU staff pianist Brian Conatser provides the musical accompaniment.
Perhaps the best-known scenes of the evening are two from Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte," which translates roughly as "All Women Do That." The program will feature the entire Act I finale as well as an extended excerpt from Act II. "Cosi" has long been seen as Mozart's "problem opera" - at once hilarious, musically exquisite, and morally disturbing.
"La serva padrona" (The Servant Mistress), written by the 23-year-old Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, was the first masterpiece of a genre known as "opera buffa." Although it was a short intermezzo, to be performed between the acts of more serious works, "La serva padrona" inaugurated a long tradition of Italian comic writing - including "Cosi fan tutte." It remains fresh and lively for modern day audiences. As with "Cosi," the story takes place in 18th-century Italy.
"Martha" is the one opera of Friedrich von Flotow that has remained in the worldwide repertoire. Although a German and a contemporary of Richard Wagner, von Flotow found his greatest influence in French light opera. The charm and vivacity of "opera comique" are apparent in "Martha." The story is set in 18th-century England.
Although shorter than most of the excerpted opera scenes on the program, Samuel Barber's "A Hand of Bridge" is actually a complete opera, a nine-minute chamber work for four singers and piano. Two married couples get together for their nightly bridge game. Against the backdrop of continuing play, each character reveals what is going on beneath the surface. In the score, Samuel Barber shows his characteristic lyricism, flecked with hints of jazz and swing. The libretto is by Gian Carlo Menotti.
Gilbert and Sullivan were the monarchs of London's 19th-century musical theater. Throughout a wildly successful string of operettas, they took aim at the conventions and absurdities of Italian grand opera, as well as the conventions and absurdities of their own society - to say nothing of human nature itself. "The Gondoliers" is one of their most tuneful and charming lampoons.
For more information, call 541-737-4061.
Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.
OSU Music Department, 541-737-4061