Opera Scene Spotlight | Photo by Aaron Cline | The Wright State Guardian
Friends and family took their seats in Schuster Hall to listen to opera sung by loved ones on Sunday, Nov. 13.
The talented students of the College of Fine and Performing Arts sang different compositions from all sorts of playwrights and composers, such as George Gershwin, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss II.
There were a total of 13 scenes, ranging from the light-hearted “What a Joy to Be Here” by Strauss to the somber, heartbreaking “My Man’s Gone Now” by Gershwin.
Ginger Minneman, lecturer and director of the opera scenes, started the event with a short speech thanking the attendees before explaining the context behind each scene. As none of the full operas were performed, all of the scenes had backgrounds that many of those attending were not aware of, making Minneman’s information invaluable.
The talented singers in the opera scenes dedicated months prior to the event to practicing in hopes of perfecting their roles. Anna Hedges, who played Adele from Strauss’s “Die Fledermaus,” shared just how much time she spent preparing for her roles, especially her solo aria as Adele.
“I would say an average of seven hours a week for the 10 or so weeks before our show, which includes rehearsal practice and outside practice, so 70+ hours for me personally,” Hedges said.
Isabelle Ford, one of the performers at Sunday’s event, admits that she had limited time to master her role’s complex layers compared to the others. She played the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and performed a high, light-hearted piece despite the dark personality of her character.
“I learned the aria ‘Der Hölle Rache’ at the beginning of the semester for a competition, and the decision to allow me into the opera scenes with it was a late one,” Ford said.
Despite this, Ford—along with Katelyn Hanes, who played Pamina—managed to fit three rehearsals in before the show. The talent of all the actors and actresses throughout the scenes was obvious as they sang, and their dedication paid off as they wowed the crowd with their performances.
Music is important to many, but to those in the School of Fine and Performing Arts, music is everything. Both Ford and Hedges agree that their lives spent singing led to these passions.
“Singing is special to me because it is intensely personal; even if I have to work a 9-5 desk job to pay the bills, I’ll never be sorry to have had vocal training because I can always enjoy the organic physical, emotional, dare I say spiritual act of signing, even if I am my only audience,” Hedges admitted.
Just as the actors must spend countless hours practicing to sing and act as close to perfectly as possible, those who work behind the scenes spend just as long practicing to be sure the stage is set for those actors.
One such behind-the-scenes member, Wren Yakes, explained just how long was spent training to ensure oft-overlooked details, such as lighting, performed smoothly.
“The big thing to realize when practicing [lighting] is it takes longer to determine what we want to emphasize in the story than it does to set. Once you have an idea of how you want it to look, it is just a matter of going over the scene as many times as you need during tech week,” Yakes said.
She also admitted that, as someone who is usually performing on stage, being behind-the-scenes and helping with lights was a new experience that she described as incredible.
“It was almost like you are trying to recreate what you see in the movies. It was probably one of the coolest things I have ever done, and I am grateful for the opportunity,” Yakes said.
Many of the performers in Sunday’s scenes will be making appearances in the WSU choir concert, which will be located in the Festival Playhouse on Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. There is also a potential for a full opera production this spring.
The performances of these students were awe-inspiring to see. The obvious love for music was seen in every scene, and Ford explained the importance of music.
“I noticed, signing in choirs, that good music is difficult to find in our daily lives. Even places like schools and churches, which are meant to utilize what is beautiful, are frequently satisfied with mundane or ugly music. It doesn’t lift the mind or the soul. My goal in performing music is not only to educate myself in the beauty that is out there but also to bring that back out into a world that’s forgotten so much of it,” Ford said.