River Campus to host two operas

Friday, January 18, 2013
Megan Statler rehearses "Suor Angelica" in which she plays the title role in the opera to be presented by the Southeast Missouri State University Department of Music Jan. 19 and 20 at Bedell Performance Hall. (Fred Lynch)

Two dramatic one-act operas will be showcased in performances this weekend at the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University.

"Dido and Aeneas" and "Suor Angelica" will both be presented at each performance in English and with an orchestra, and are expected to span about two hours.

Chris Goeke, chairman of Southeast's Department of Music, said the operas have unique musical qualities.

"They are short with a lot packed into them," Goeke said. "We're going to cover a lot of ground in each opera, and the audience will get a lot out of going to see them."

The first opera to be performed, Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas," tells of a tragic love story and is based on Homer's "The Iliad." Considered a masterwork of the Baroque era, the opera has yet to fall out of fashion.

"Purcell is up there with Bach and Beethoven in the music community," Goeke said. "His 'Dido and Aeneas' has been around since the late 1600s. That's a hallmark of a classic."

The opera will also use a Greek chorus, whose members will speak in unison when providing commentary to the audience or when engaging with actors on stage.

"That adds an interesting element to the show," Goeke said. "In addition to the Greek chorus, there will be soldiers, royalty, a sorceress and witches. People will enjoy the opera from the storyline and from a historical perspective."

After a brief intermission, Giacomo Puccini's "Suor Angelica" will be performed. An uplifting tale of a miraculous vision, the opera will be presented with a modern orchestra, and its musical style is lush and romantic.

"The style of 'Suor Angelica' is what people traditionally associate with opera," Goeke said. "It includes a full sound with soaring and striking melodies. There's lots of passion, and the miracle of forgiveness at the end is uplifting."

In the opera, dramatic tension is created by a life-changing family situation. The conflict reaches its climax when Sister Angelica, portrayed by Southeast senior Megan Statler, confronts her aunt, the princess.

"It's an emotional moment when I meet with her," Statler said. "It's like I go a little bit crazy, but without giving away too much, I'm very grief-stricken as a result."

"It's a powerful moment," Goeke added. "The high drama creates very real emotions."

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Bedell Performance Hall at the River Campus.

Tickets are on sale for $15. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the River Campus box office at 651-2265 or online at rivercampusevents.com. The box office is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.



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