Women seeking revenge on a male co-worker, warring divas and a Mafia boss named "Tony" comes to life on stage this month in two Kansas opera premieres produced by Fort Hays State University's Opera Theatre.
"Tickets, Please" and "The Impresario," under the direction of Joseph Perniciaro, instructor of voice and director of opera will be at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26, and Saturday, Jan. 27 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Felten-Start Theatre in Malloy Hall on the FHSU campus.
"Unlike last year's Greek tragedy, opera audiences will enjoy two one-act operas in English with modern situations and characters," said Perniciaro. "Both operas are great pieces and entertaining in their own way."
"Both of these pieces are great from an audience standpoint in that they will see both an intense drama in 'Tickets, Please' and a slapstick comedy in 'The Impresario'" he said.
"Tickets, Please," set after the turn of the 20th century, revolves around six women who work for the British transit system and who discover they are each in a relationship with the same male co-worker. The plot takes a sharp turn, and the women seek their revenge. With music by Robert Nelson and the text by Sindney Berger, the opera, based on the book by D.H. Lawrence, was premiered in 1985 by Houston-based Texas Opera Theater. The FHSU production with by the first in Kansas.
"I play Cissy, a head-strong, pro-active character who is plotting to get rid of the lead character," said Laura Decker, Lindsborg senior. "My role is very theatrical and a lot of fun."
"'Tickets, Please' will expose audiences not just to the talent of the students but also to first-rate modern composition," said Perniciaro.
"The Impresario," with music by Mozart, dates from 1786 though the story, updated in 1980 and then again in 2000 by Kate Pogue, is a comedy about a mafia boss named Tony who enters the world of opera as a producer by uniting two warring divas with the help of a clever artist manager. This will be the Kansas premiere of this modern and updated story.
"The sub-title is 'The Sopranos' meet the sopranos, a play on the title of the hit HBO series by the same name," said Perniciaro.
"I play Cedric Prestwick," said Karl Pratt, Hoxie, freshman, "an overly-flamboyant former manager of an opera who is down on his luck and is left with what will probably be his last chance to bring his opera managing career back to life with financial help from Tony, a Mafia boss who has a soft side for music. Cedric will, more or less, only have a job if the pair can reunite two former divas in hopes that they will agree to star in the newest opera, but acting as a mediator and friend between the two sopranos proves difficult as, of course, the divas won't have it," said Pratt.
"'The Impresario' that we are performing is delightfully comedic," said Perniciaro.
"In 'Tickets, Please,' I play Annie, a character full of mixed emotions ranging from anger to flirtation," said Tiffany Lawrence, Beloit senior. "I have never been in an opera that is accompanied by anything but a piano before, so I am looking forward to working with a string ensemble."
"The opera is fun to perform and I know everyone who attends will enjoy it as well," said Pratt.
"It's a really exciting opportunity to have these two premieres performed by such a talented cast," said Perniciaro. "The total running time should be about 1 hour and 40 minutes, and it's the perfect pairing of show, because you get your drama and comedy all in one sitting."
Tickets are available by phone through the FHSU Student Service Center at 785-628-5306 or at the Felton-Start Theatre box office on performance days.
For more information call 785-628-5329.
Cast members in "Tickets, Please" are listed by hometown and classification.
BELOIT: Tiffany Lawrence, senior.
GARDEN CITY: Alexis Corbett, senior.
HAYS: Alexis Korbe, junior; Sarah Odum, senior; Elise Peterson, Hays High choral director.
HOISINGTON: Kyle Zecha, senior.
LINDSBORG: Laura Decker, senior.
LYONS: Emily Cline, senior.
Cast members in "The Impresario:"
BELOIT: Nicholas Naasz, senior.
FULLERTON, Calif.: Chris Jones, junior.
GREAT BEND: Amanda Pfenninger, FHSU Alumni.
HAYS: Rebecca Tincknell, special student.
HOXIE: Karl Pratt, freshman.
LYONS: Katie Steinert, senior.
ULYSSES: Jarrett Henson, sophomore.