U of L Opera Workshop celebrates Italy


The University of Lethbridge celebrates Italy with their nineteenth annual Opera Workshop, Viva Italia, happening, Nov. 1 and 2 in University Theatre.

 Patrick Davis and Krysia Ferguson rehearsae a scene for the u of L opera Workshop, Nov. 1 and 2 in University Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
 The two hour performance will feature excerpts from a variety of well known operas including Verdi’s La Traviata, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and Mozart’s Italian opera masterpiece, The Marriage of Figaro. The 25 cast members will also be part of the University of Lethbridge’s annual collaboration with the Symphony Orchestra, when they perform Gilbert and Sullivan’s “ The Gondoliers, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
Director Dr. Blaine Hendsbee chose the Italian theme for the show for several reasons, not the least of which there is a lot of material to choose from. He noted the operas are either written in Italy, sung in Italian or set in Italy.

There is a minimal set and props in this production.

“They’re all dressed formal. We’re saving  the props and costumes for ‘The Gondolier,”” Hendsbee said.

“Opera in other countries ebbs and flows, but in Italy, it is always growing. So there is lots to choose from” Hendsbee observed, adding the show includes a lot of familiar pieces, whether fans know a lot about opera or just recognize the Barber of Seville from watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. There will also be an excerpt from “Kiss Me Kate, and much more.

“ It can be a long two-hour show if people don’t recognize any of the music, so we chose material that is well known.  So we’re performing the Barber of  Seville and the drinking song from La Traviata. We’re also performing music from the oldest  known completed opera ‘Coronation of Poppea.’ We’re also performing music from Mozart,  Handel and Pucinni,” he continued, adding he chose pieces that were best suited to his students’ voices.

“We cover a lot of different styles,” he said.

Krysia Ferguson is excited to be part of both productions. One of her highlights is "O mio babbino caro" ("Oh my dear papa") from the opera Gianni Schicchi (1918) by Giacomo Puccini to a libretto by Giovacchino Forzano.

“She’s asking her father permission to marry the man she loves,” she said.

“ It’s a chance to challenge myself by performing several different roles instead on just one,” said Ferguson, who will be the lead in La Gondoliers. She has been involved with the previous three Opera Workshops.

“ Dr. Hendsbee is great about choosing pieces that best suit our voices,” she said.

Patrick Davis is excited to be part of his first Opera Workshop.
“ I love acting and singing, but I don’t  get to do them both at the same time,” said Davis, who just transferred to Lethbridge from Grand Prairie.
“I’ve enjoyed being able to sing with all these different people,” he continued.
The U Of L Opera workshop is at University Theatre, at 7:30 p.m. each night, Nov. 1 and 2.
Tickets for the U of L Opera Workshop Sampler are available at the U of L Box Office Monday – Friday, (403) 329-2616 or online: ulethbridge.ca/tickets. Tickets are $20 regular, $15 seniors and alumni, $12 students.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 October 2019 11:59 )