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UA Opera Theatre christens opera house with “The Consul”

Alexandra Ellsworth

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When Jen Stephenson first read lines for UA Opera Theatre’s performance of Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Consul,” she cried. The emotional 1950s opera, set in the mid-20th century in an unnamed totalitarian country, addresses themes seen throughout history that can move modern humanity as well.

Stephenson, a second-year doctoral student at the University, and Paul Houghtaling, director of “The Consul,” both said this performance will be one the community will not want to miss.

“It’s so realistic,” Stephenson said. “When I am reading about people in the Ukraine, I can’t help but think about Magda and her story.”

(See also “Opera Theatre finds new home“)

Stephenson will be singing the lead role of Magda in “The Consul.” She said not only has the role been demanding as a singer, but Magda is probably one of the most demanding acting roles in the school’s repertoire.

“Most of the opera, Magda is bordering hysterical,” Stephenson said. “As an actor, you have to put your emotions close to the surface.”

Houghtaling said he chose the opera for three reasons. He felt it would be well-suited to showcase his students in the program; he always chooses his operas based on the type of singers he has in his program. The other reasons that went into the decision were more aesthetic, he said.

(See also “Students prepare for UATD’s ‘Picnic’“)

“The past two years we have done comedies, and so this year I really wanted to do a drama,” Houghtaling said. “And since we were partnering with the Huxford Symphony Orchestra, I wanted something with lush, rich music.”

The opening performance of “The Consul” will be Friday at 8 p.m. in the newly renovated Bryant-Jordan Hall, in collaboration with the Huxford Symphony Orchestra directed by Maestro Blake Richardson. The performance will be followed by a reception where attendees can meet the singers and production staff and enjoy refreshments. There will also be a matinee performance Sunday at 3 p.m.

(See also “Doctoral students direct opera productions“)

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UA Opera Theatre christens opera house with “The Consul”