University of South Carolina

Opera at USC performs 'Figaro' March 26 and 28


Opera at USC will perform an old favorite, Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, in one of the newest buildings on campus for its spring production.

Ellen Schlaefer
Ellen Schlaefer

Creating an intimate musical space from a large open room with one whole wall of glass in the new Band Hall/Dance Facility has created challenges for Ellen Douglas Schlaefer, the production's director and director of opera studies in the School of Music. The company is renting a platform for the stage and tiered platforms that will seat about 300 for the audience.

"It's an experiment," Schlaefer said. "We're trying to create theatre magic in a space designed for another purpose. The set is very minimal but very effective. The costumes are lovely. Together with conductor Neil Casey, vocal coach Lynn Kompass, scenic coordinator Teddy Moore, and lighting designer Aaron Pelzek, we are hoping to make the experience for the audience as lovely as Mozart's music deserves."

Without a permanent home, Opera at USC has performed off campus and in Drayton Hall and Longstreet Theater in the past.

"Be an opera follower and follow us for this one-time production in the Band Hall," Schlaefer said.

The Marriage of Figaro, or Le Nozze di Figaro, describes a day of madness in the palace of Count Almaviva near Seville, Spain.

Figaro and Susanna are engaged to be married. The Count, who is married to Countess Rosina, is pursing Susanna and finds excuses to delay her wedding to Figaro.

Figaro, Susanna, and Rosina discover the Count's plan and conspire to embarrass and expose his scheming. The Count responds by trying to legally compel Figaro to marry a woman old enough to be his mother, but it turns out at the last minute that she really is his mother. Through the clever manipulations of Figaro and Susanna, the Count's love for Rosina is finally restored.

Daniel Cole
Daniel Cole

"It's a great story and probably one of the most famous operas ever," Schlaefer said. "It's like an extended episode of a sitcom with very real people and really beautiful music."

Guest artist Daniel Cole, a Columbia soloist with a doctorate from Indiana University's opera program, will sing the role of Figaro. Cole has appeared in Lisbon, Cologne, Taiwan, Amsterdam, and New York and with regional opera companies in the United States.

Students will sing all of the other roles. The student performers are Mary-Therese Heintzkill, a master's candidate in vocal performance, as Susanna; Peter Barton, a DMA vocal performance candidate, as the Count; Serena Hill, a DMA vocal performance candidate, as the Countess; Kelsey Harrison, a sophomore vocal performance major, as Cherubino; Michael Thomas, a junior vocal performance major, as Bartolo; Zach Marshall, a DMA vocal performance candidate, as Basilio; Ginger Jones, a master's candidate in vocal performance, as Marcellina; Barry Sharrock, a master's candidate in opera theatre, as Don Curzio; Michelle Fegeas, a senior vocal performance and classics major, as Barbarina; and Xavier Martin-Moses, a senior music education major as Antonio.

Ensemble members are Katie Leitner, Kimberley Hoover, Sara Beth Shelton, Jan Malcher, Teresa Jewett, Ann Louise Glasser, John Callison, Joshua Day, Rebecca Wood, Jennifer C. Davis, Garrett Campbell, Greg Ammons, and Melissa Peters.

"It's been a challenge for our students because of the complexity of the musical dialogue, or recitative, sung in Italian," Schlaefer said, "but the cast is certainly up to it."

The production will feature costumes designed by Robina D'arcy-Fox and sets by Gary Eckhart, originally designed for the Green Mountain Opera Festival in Vermont. The opera will be presented in Italian with English supertitles.

Opera at USC will present The Marriage of Figaro in Room 108 of the new Band Hall/Dance Facility at 324 Sumter St. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. March 26 and 3 p.m. March 28.

Ticket prices are $18 for general admission; $15 for seniors, faculty, staff, and military; and $5 for students. For tickets, call 7-0058.

Posted: 03/18/10 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 08/09/11 @ 9:19 AM | Permalink