Q&A: One-act American operas coming to the UCA

Hunter Goddard

Dead week comes to life Friday night at the University Center for the Arts with one of its final shows this semester.

Gian Carlo Menotti (left); Thomas Pasatieri (right). (Photos courtesy of toledoblade.com and icollector.com)
Gian Carlo Menotti (left); Thomas Pasatieri (right). (Photos courtesy of toledoblade.com and icollector.com)

The Charles & Reta Ralph Opera Center presents “American Opera One-Acts: ‘The Medium’ by G.C. Menotti & ‘Signor Deluso’ by T. Pasatieri.” The performance will take place from 7:30 until 9 p.m. in the Runyan Rehearsal Hall. It is free and open to the public.

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“The Medium” is a short, dramatic opera about a woman and her obsession with ghosts, séance and murder. Conversely, “Signor Deluso” is a short, comedic opera about a woman getting married off to a man she does not love.

Sarah College, a master’s student in music, is singing the part of Celie in “Signor Deluso.” She has been performing in operas since she was 10 years old in choir, singing children’s choruses for opera productions. The CSU program stood out to her because it has its own opera center.

“That’s not very common in this country, and there are a lot of opportunities for the students here to perform in operas,” College said.

According to College, every opera is different, so her inspiration for each one comes from different places. She said she is most inspired by her characters and how they are portrayed through the music.

“It’s my job to figure out how to best convey the composer’s intentions, with the music, and my character’s intentions, dramatically,” College said.

College said this production is unique from anything else she has ever worked on before because it involves two operas and two composers, with only 35 minutes for her to keep the audience engaged and for her to show character development, both vocally and physically.

“Audiences should expect to see two very different stories, well-told through music,” College said. “‘Signore Deluso’ is a farce. It’s making fun of opera with its overdramatic caricatures and slapstick comedy.”

The biggest learning experience of all has been putting together a show like this in only a month, with quick memorization and quick character development, College said.

As for “The Medium,” Talia Fischer, a music senior, is one of the performers singing the character of Monica. She agreed to sit down with the Collegian to discuss her work.

Can you start out by giving us a brief professional history?

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I’ve been taking voice lessons since high school, and I got into opera my senior year. I’ve been performing in operas since my freshman year here at CSU.

What inspires you to do the work that you do with opera?

At the core of opera is storytelling and the experiences people go through – love, death and comedy. Music is a language everybody understands. We may not all know how it works, but we get it. It’s an innate human experience.

What’s different about this show from anything else you’ve ever worked on before?

It’s not what people stereotypically think of opera. It’s smaller and meant to be performed in a casual setting.

What can audiences expect to take away from the experience of coming to see this performance?

“The Medium” has a creepy ghost story vibe people don’t expect out of opera. They’ll be surprised by how accessible this is. It’s sung in English and it takes place in a contemporary setting.

How has working on this production affected your future with opera?

I graduate in December, and I plan on pursuing a career in vocal performance and opera, as well as administrative work in classical music and opera. “The Medium” is an emotional opera, and it’s challenged my acting and allowed me to explore the ways in which I’m human. It’s applicable to real life, too. Communication is key.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that I didn’t think to ask about?

There’s a misconception that you have to be fancy and pay a lot to see opera. Classical music can be scary for some people, but it’s not as terrifying as they make it out to be. You can show up in jeans and a T-shirt if you want.

Collegian A&E Writer Hunter Goddard can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @hunter_gaga.