Ralph Opera Program presents spring opera “A Little Night Music”

Mckenzie Moore

Opening March 30 and running until April 2, “A Little Night Music” continues the Ralph Opera Program’s 2016-2017 year with a hilarious production in Griffin Concert Hall at the UCA. Dr. Tiffany Blake directs the program while Christopher Reed conducts the chamber orchestra in a lively story that follows the intertwined stories of multiple couples with diverse personalities and situations.

Production for the opera began with auditions last October, leading up to long hours of rehearsal and individual practice for all members of the production team, including cast members, the musicians of the CSU Sinfonia, stage crew, and faculty.

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The Ralph Opera Program presents "A Little Night Music", a comedy about diverse couples on the search for love. Photo credit: Christian Johnson

Emily Workman, a cello player in the orchestral accompaniment to the opera, emphasizes how each part of the production empowers the other.

“I love the interactions and dependency between the vocalists and instrumentalists, and the fact that neither of us makes sense without the other,” she says.

Contrary to last semester’s “Die Fledermaus,” the spring opera was performed entirely in English, making it easier for the audience to connect with the message and relate to the characters. It also takes place in a more modern setting and explores some adult themes throughout the story.

Conductor Christopher Reed also expressed the opera’s pure human connection in a story by Brooke Poulson, featured on the UCA’s website.

“The humanity of it, it’s real … the best part, I’d say, is when the audience responds either by laughing or crying,” he says.

At the emotional peak of the story, the musical score features the most famous song of the show, “Send in the Clowns.” The opera’s program notes state that Sondheim composed the song for the actress who first played the role of Desiree, wanting to emphasize the breathy quality of her voice in a lyrical waltz. The song perpetuates the message of the program through variations of its theme up until the final scene.

Dr, Tiffany Blake, director, also added her perspective. “What moves me about ‘A Little Night Music’ is the fact that all the characters are flawed and therefore relatable. There is no true hero or heroine.” Due to an untimely illness, Blake also sang for one of the actors on stage.

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During the climax of A Little Night Music, one of the couples truly finds love. Photo credit: Christian Johnson

Workman agrees that the human nature of the opera makes it a perfect show for a wide audience, including people who may not have seen such types of productions before.

“If you’ve never had any exposure to opera, this show is perfect because it’s all in English and it’s very modern, so you will understand everything and probably relate to most of the characters,” she says.

Reed emphasizes how relating to the characters allows the audience to draw a unique message and experience from the show.

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“It is open-ended and so easily understood by people in their own way,” he says.

The opera follows the story of a tangled web of lovers, ex-lovers, and future lovers. They begin in the wrong relationships and all meet up for a weekend in the country, spending the second act of the play trying to work out their interwoven love lives. Humor decorated the program while the actors’ talented voices moved the plot forward with beauty and a certain level of flair.

Two different casts performed the show on alternating nights, creating a very large production team on stage alone. The long process of preparing for the show ultimately culminated in a standing ovation on opening night.

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The first cast of "A Little Night Music" bows to a standing ovation on opening night. Photo credit: Mckenzie Moore

“This is a wonderful piece with beautiful music and complex characters. I really feel as though the students have grown tremendously as actors during the rehearsal process,” Dr. Blake says.

The opera will continue this weekend at 7:30 p.m. in Griffin Concert Hall of the UCA and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are free for CSU students and $19.50 for general public admission.

Brooke Poulson’s story can be found at music.colostate.edu.

Collegian reporter Mckenzie Moore can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @mkenziemoore172.