Sunday, April 21, 2013

Comic Voyage to Heaven and Hell With the HSU Opera Workshop

 The road to heaven goes through hell—at least if you’re a soprano. Your first name doesn’t even have to be Tony. 

 That’s the premise of Too Many Sopranos, a popular comic opera performed by the HSU Opera Workshop Thursday through Sunday, April 18-21. 

 The trials of four sopranos trying to get into heaven (they’re the singing and not the criminal kind) lead to musical spoofs on famous singers and other historical figures, as well as a trip to hell to recruit a few tenors and basses (otherwise known as men) for the soprano-heavy heavenly choir.

 Too Many Sopranos by American composer and teacher Edwin Penhorwood, has been widely performed at universities as well as by professional companies such as the Baltimore Opera, Portland Opera and Virginia Concert and Opera Theatre. 

“Though the opera doesn’t take itself seriously,” said Opera Workshop director and HSU Music professor Elisabeth Harrington, “it does include some glorious music, both for soloists and in several impressive ensembles.” 

The satirical characters are based on singers and other notables from different historical eras, including Madame de Pompadour (“Madame Pompous,”) Enrico Caruso (“Enrico Carouser,”) Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy.

 St. Peter is played by HSU alum Steve Nobles, who has appeared in several recent North Coast musicals, and the angel Gabriel is sung by HSU alum Dylan Karl. Local singer Luke Sikora is Enrico Carouser, Rigel Schmitt is the Unnamed Bass and Elisabeth Harrington appears as Dame Doleful, singing with her students.

 The HSU student singers creating the merriment are Ana Cruz, Steve Eitzen, Jacqui Hernandez, Jo Kuzelka, Sandy Lindop and Miah Lodes. Carol Escobar directs the action and Paul Cummings conducts a chamber orchestra. Sets are by Siena Nelson, costumes by Catherine Brown. 

 The Opera Workshop performs Too Many Sopranos Thursday through Saturday April 18-20 at 8 p.m. and Sunday April 21 at 2 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, Theatre Arts Building at HSU. Tickets $10/$5 students and seniors from HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. First 30 HSU students admitted free for each performance. Opera Workshop is directed by Elisabeth Harrington, produced by HSU Music Department. 

Media: Tri-City WeeklyHumboldt State Now, Arcata Eye

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