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Opera Scenes gives students voice in learning great works

Nov. 21, 1997

By Stephanie Kugle

Reporter for The Baylor Lariat

Baylor Opera Theater will explore the depths of human emotion through two evenings of opera excerpts.This is the 17th production of Opera Scenes under the direction of Richard Aslanian.

Seven scenes will be presented: The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti; The Bartered Bride by Bedrich Smetana; Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck; The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach; Shining Brow by Daron Hagen and Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini.

Aslanian said although the entertainment value of each scene is considered, the most important thing is the students' education of the repertoire.

'There are certain works that everyone should know, and I try to bring these to the attention of the group,' Aslanian said.

Holley Ewell, a Chesapeake, Va., sophomore, agrees.

'Opera Scenes are a great way to introduce someone unfamiliar with opera to the art form,' Ewell said.

Aslanian said he finds the inspiration for the pieces in the voice types and personalities of his students.

For some students, the differences between them and their characters provides inspiration for their performance.

'Acting is realistic behavior in imagined circumstances,' said Jon Truitt, a Deer Park graduate student.

Heather Heare, a Houston senior performing in The Bartered Bride, said performing leads to self-exploration.

'It allows me to play a character different than my personality,' she said. 'When I'm on stage, I actually feel like I'm Marie.'

The scene from Shining Brow, which is being performed by Jon Truitt, Anna Baxter and Bradley Schliesser, is an opera written in 1993 that deals with the life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The composer, Daron Hagen, is in residence at Baylor and is directing the scene for the Baylor Opera Theatre.

Jon Truitt said he enjoyed working under the direction of Hagen. Because Hagen is the author of the work, Truitt said the cast is able to learn much more of the backgrounds and motivations of the characters.

'Many times in opera there are little motives,' he said. '(Hagen) knows what's going on in all the subtexts. It's exciting because you get to know what the composer really envisioned.'

Besides performing, Jon Truitt is directing Hansel and Gretel and The Tales of Hoffmann.

'You try to get at the heart of the motivation and really try to reach for it,' he said. 'As a director you have to be the interprative eye.'

Opera Scenes is showing at 8 p.m. today and Saturday in Roxy Grove Hall. Both performances are free and open to the public.

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