Theatre & Dance premieres opera at Van Meter

Brook Joyner

The music and theatre departments will bring the drama of Italian opera to WKU for a three-day run of shows this weekend.

As part of an annual co-production between the two departments, the show will feature two stand alone operas originally composed by Giacomo Puccini: “Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi.”

The performances will take place at Van Meter Hall on Friday and April 1 at 8 p.m. and April 2 at 3 p.m. Unlike many operatic productions, the shows are one-act, with each only running about 50 minutes.

Although the two acts were written as part of a triptych, they differ greatly in their content.

“It’s the tragedy and comedy of theater and we get to live it in one night,” said Wayne Pope, professor of music and director of the show.

Puccini’s operas fall under the genre of “verismo,” which translates to truth or reality in Italian. Pope explained the goal of this movement was to bring more realistic settings to opera and as a result, create dramatic stories.

Unlike traditional theatre, the plot of the stories is driven by singing rather than dialogue. Pope said this, along with the reliance on vocal projection instead of microphones, creates a different experience for the audience.

“The success and the struggle of it all, you’ll feel and see,” Pope said. “There’s nothing canned about it at all. It’s real, you’re in the moment with them.”

Pope, along with the rest of the cast and crew, has been working on the production since January.

“The cast and everybody is doing such great work,” Pope said. “I’m anxious to give this to the community.”

Dylan Wright, a senior and vocal music education major from Frankfort, plays the role of the titular character in Gianni Schicchi. This will be his third opera, previously playing the lead role in “The Marriage of Figaro” two years ago.

“What kind of got me hooked on it was how insanely over-dramatic it can be,” Wright said.

Although the operas were originally written in Italian, they will be performed in English. This allowed a more even playing field for people who may not have experience singing in foreign languages to get roles, since the show features everyone from freshmen to graduate students.

Regardless of what language it is sung in, Wright said music can be a powerful tool for communication.

“Music is a language in its own respect because you can communicate the past, the present and the future,” Wright said.

This will be Wright’s final show at WKU before he graduates, and he said he is more excited than nervous.

“I broke my nerves in high school,” Wright said. “I’m ready to roll.”

Reporter Brook Joyner can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected]