Brandon University School of Music Presents Mozart Opera

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

BRANDON, MB — The Brandon University Opera Ensemble, under the co-direction of School of Music Assistant Professor David Playfair and sessional instructor Gordon Portman, presents a new adaptation of Mozart’s comic opera, “The Marriage of Figaro”. This is the Opera Ensemble’s third full-length production — Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte was produced in 2008 and Britten’s Albert Herring in 2010.

“The School of Music’s Opera Ensemble Program provides the only chance to see opera in Brandon,” said Playfair. “The new modern adaptation of this particular work, the comic performances, and the visual elements of sets and costumes will make this unique opportunity memorable for audiences.”

Another highlight of this production is the first-time incorporation of a specially assembled chamber orchestra composed of professional musicians.

“The presence of an orchestra will add hugely to both the audience’s enjoyment of the show and the learning experience of the students,” said Portman.

According to Playfair, the Opera Ensemble program is a unique undergraduate program unlike any other in the country, and perhaps on the continent, in that no other student studying vocal performance at this level has the opportunity to systematically learn how to acquire an entire role in a full opera production.

One of those students, Sage Robinson, a third year voice student, is interpreting the role of Susanna. When asked about this unparalleled experience, she said: “What I find most challenging about this project is its sheer scale. It can be truly daunting and I was terrified. However, because of my amazing cast mates and professors, my determination and love for this opera constantly grows. With such support and care, you are continually driven to become the very best you can be.”

This production will present a new adaptation of the opera’s libretto, prepared for this cast by the Ensemble’s co-directors. Set in the Roaring Twenties, the language and attitudes of the time provide the perfect setting for the story’s wild and crazy sequence of events.

“Just the other day in rehearsal, I was thinking how very much like an I Love Lucy episode so many scenes are,” said Playfair.

The opera’s plot is complicated and farcical, consisting of a series of challenges faced by the clever Figaro (Connor Lavell) and the hot tempered Susanna (Ms. Robinson) as they prepare for their wedding. The opera takes place all in one day and the events, confrontations, misunderstandings and at times touching expressions of love all resolve in one of Mozart’s happiest endings — a grand finale to what has traditionally been viewed as one of the composer’s most beautiful, most magical and most human works.

Other cast members include Chelsea Chimilar, Kyle James, Kendra Thompson and Nicholas Urquhart, with guest artists Megan Eccleston, David Cathcart and Erin Pogue. Helping behind the scenes are pianist Kara Dixon, stage manager Donna Lowe, and assistant stage manager/publicist Emily Diehl.

This operatic production is supported by the generosity of several public and private donors, as well as by the School of Music. Performances are slated for Tuesday, March 27 and Thursday, March 29 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 1 at 2 p.m., in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall. Tickets for the production are $15 for adults, $10.00 for students, and seniors, and are available in advance from the School of Music or at the door.

For more information, please contact:

School of Music
Brandon University
Joanne F. Villeneuve
Brandon University
270 – 18th Street
Brandon, MB R7A 6A9



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