Comedic Opera Scenes Offer New Twists

Members of Oklahoma Baptist University's opera theatre class will add their own influences to scenes from four well-known operas and an operetta in "The Laughter of Opera," Nov. 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the university's Yarborough Auditorium. Admission is $3.

The group also will perform for Pleasant Grove School on Friday, Nov. 17.

Performing scenes from, Gaetano Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love," Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" and "Pirates of Penzance," and Leonard Bernstein's "Trouble in Tahiti," the students will present different time-periods and settings than what is typically portrayed for two of the operas.

They also will include a performance of Mark Bucci's "Sweet Betsy from Pike" in its entirety.

Rhetta Hudson, associate professor of music, and first-year OBU faculty member, Dr. Jon Gruett, associate professor of music, co-teach the course.

Poodle skirts and other 1950's attire in place of the typical Japanese-clad performers in "The Mikado," add another contrast to an opera already set in juxtaposition, said Gruett.

Senior vocal performance majors, Randy Umstead, and Stephanie Moring's portrayal of "Kissing Duet" and "The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring" will include that style of costumes.

Costumes and set for the "Elixir of Love," originally set in the early 19th century, will be transformed to a scene similar to what one would see in a production of the musical "Oklahoma!"

"The behavior of the people and their physical characteristics do not change," he said. "They very well could be Laurie and Curly from Oklahoma!"

Umstead and Aubrey Billingsley, junior vocal performance major, will perform "The Intoxication Duet" from "Elixir."

Cody Evans, sophomore church music major, and Jennifer Barrier, sophomore vocal performance major, will present "Stay Frederick, Stay" from "Pirates of Penzance," and Erin Cain, junior music education major, and Conor Scholes, junior church music major, will team up with Umstead and Evans for "What a Movie" from "Trouble in Tahiti."

The one-act horse opera, "Sweet Betsy from Pike" is a melodrama based on the folk song. The characters are junior vocal performance major Michelle Thompson, Cain, and Scholes.

"These particular operas have happy endings, the "all's well that ends well," "girl gets the guy" kind of endings," Hudson said. "People enjoy them. The music is light and delightful and they're funny."

Keith Whitmore, OBU staff accompanist, will serve as accompanist for the performances.

Dr. Kristen Stauffer, assistant professor of music and humanities, will present background information about music pieces on the program during the "Pre-Concert Conversation," on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in Raley Chapel 203.