In this year’s Opera Workshop Performance, 10 students stole the show at the University of Rhode Island’s Fine Arts Center this past weekend. After months of diligently rehearsing for their performance of “Mozart Magic”, a group of students gave a performance of a lifetime.
Presented by the university’s department of music, “Mozart Magic” was performed with a wondrous orchestra who beautifully accompanied the opera students’ display. This performance would also mark the very first time this particular opera has collaborated with the orchestra.
The masterminds behind the scenes included, Ann Danis as conductor, RenÃ© de la Garza as stage director, Jennifer Maxwell as pianist and coach and Marilyn Salvatore as costumer. Each of these dedicated individuals was very important to the presentation as a whole.
The 10 students within the Opera Workshop included sopranos Felicia Baker, Chelsea Lorranine, Magdalen Santos and Gina Tonno. Mezzo-sopranos, Ashley Frezza and Nicolette Mingels. Tenors, Michael Genese and Jack Thomas. And baritones, Christopher Davey and Andrew Gribbin.
The performance began with conductor Santos and violin soloist Jennifer Langevin, accompanied by the orchestra playing “Mediation from ‘Thais’” originally written by J. Massenet (1842-1912). Langevin, performed beautifully throughout her solo. This piece specifically carried a soft yet abrupt feel to it and the whole orchestra played it with such passion, that upon watching their presentation, it would be hard to deny their love of being on stage.
As the performance continued, the orchestra played six pieces from “Carmen Suite #1.” Originally written by G. Bizet (1838-1875) each song had a curious and very adventurous feel to them. Some were more upbeat than others and some had a variation of both upbeat and slow. But each piece was performed as to keep audience members wanting more.
After the orchestra opened the performance, there was a slight intermission. Here the orchestra moved down to the orchestra pit below the stage in order for the opera performance to begin. The opera performance was split into five acts, each telling select pieces from the stories of “The Magical Flute” and “The Marriage of Figaro.” Both of these pieces were written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and were chosen to refer to the abridged and combined product of “Mozart Magic.”
“The Marriage of Figaro” was originally written in Italian and takes place in Spain, highlighting the aspects of revenge, jealousy and love triangles. This piece specifically had lead roles by Lorraine, Davey, Frezza, Genese, Santos, Gribbin, Thomas, Baker, Mingles and Swider.
“The Magic Flute” was originally written in German, but the Opera Workshop class performed this piece in English. ‘Flute’ had eight characters played by Tonno, Mingles, Frezza, Baker, Genese, Thomas, Davey and Gribbin. This piece revolved around a trio of three ladies, Tonno, Mingles and Frezza, as they helped Davey, Gribbin and Thomas’ characters on their journey to find love. Without the magical flute that Davry, Gribbin and Thomas were eventually granted, they might not have found true love in the end after all.
For Gina Tonno, this will be her second time being a part of the opera program at URI. Tonno is currently a sophomore and had had little experience with opera before coming to the University.
“I did study classical music,” she said, “and sang in numerous choirs, but my first opera experience happened my freshman year of college at URI.”
Tonno’s favorite part of being apart of the opera performance was being able to sing alongside all of her close friends. Their rehearsals started at the end of January right when the semester begun. Meeting to practice as a whole every Monday and Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m.
Tonno explained that she definitely plans on staying involved with the music scene at school because it is her true passion and she loves to sing more than anything else.