Dramatic Revival

Cassie Riley

The woman stood center stage, looking at the audience and singing her sorrow. On the same stage, a cunning peasant later disguised himself as a wealthy dead man to change the man’s will and benefit himself.

Crowds gathered in Russell H. Miller Theatre in the fine arts center Thursday through Sunday to watch two of composer Giacomo Puccini’s short operas.

“Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi” were first performed in 1918. The Department of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance agreed to revive the two classics on Western’s campus.

This year’s double dose of opera drew packed performances.

Bill Leonard, optional retiree for the Department of Theatre and Dance, said he was very pleased with the turnout.

The first and the more serious of the two operas was “Suor Angelica.”

In the opera, Angelica, played by Glasgow sophomore Amanda Biggs, is forced into nunnery for shaming her noble family by having an illegitimate child.

“Gianni Schicchi” was much more humorous than “Suor Angelica.”

Buoso Donati, a wealthy man, dies, leaving most of his wealth to a local group of monks. His greedy family is distressed and asks local peasant Gianni Schicchi to impersonate the dead man and change the will.

The audience responded at the end of both operas with a standing ovation.

Florence freshman Riley Jones attended the opera Saturday night.

“I thought it was probably going to be boring,” Jones said.

He said his attitude changed after seeing the opera.

“I liked it afterward,” he said. “It was just different from a normal play.”

Stearns senior Jacob Hamlin, who played Rinuccio, agreed that while some may think that opera is unrealistic or boring, it’s a great form of art.

“Opera’s something you have to get a taste for,” he said. “It’s really spectacular to see and to hear.”

And, although she hadn’t even heard an opera until she was 21, Biggs agrees.

“Opera to me is the height of everything,” she said. “I see it as the pinnacle.”

Reach Cassie Riley at [email protected]