Opera returns to Fort Hays State University on April 19 and 20 when students perform in two entertaining compositions.
The performances, each of which includes both operas, will be in Felten-Start Theatre in Malloy Hall on the FHSU campus. Saturday's showing, April 19, is at 8 p.m., Sunday's, April 20, at 3 p.m.
The first opera, "A Hand of Bridge," is a look inside the human mind and how the human exterior can mask inner desires and demons, said Dr. Joe Perniciaro (pronounced pear-nih-CHAIR-oh), teacher of voice and director of opera at FHSU.
"The second, 'The Medium,' raises the question, 'Is there an afterlife and spirits?,' " he said. "This is a suspenseful piece with a shocking ending."
"A Hand of Bridge" was written in 1959 by Samuel Barber, with libretto, or text, by Gian Carlo Menotti. This is a darkly humorous opera, said Perniciaro, about two couples playing a hand of bridge, during which each character reveals his or her inner desires and demons.
Barber and Menotti met in 1928 while students at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music, said Perniciaro.
"They quickly formed an intense, sustained personal and professional bond, and they were inextricably linked throughout their careers," he said.
"The Medium" is a dramatic opera with words and music by Menotti. Baba, the psychic Madame Flora, is haunted by the ghosts of her seances, but the question raised by the opera, said Perniciaro, is, "Are they really ghosts or simply her madness?" This opera, commissioned by Columbia University, was first performed in 1946.
"These are two exciting student casts in two wonderfully accessible operas," said Perniciaro. "These pieces are a great introduction to opera but also very engaging to the aficionado."
The cast for "A Hand of Bridge" is Calder Craig, Russell freshman, playing David, the florid businessman; Sarah Odum, Hays senior, plays his middle-aged wife, Geraldine;
Karl Pratt, Hoxie sophomore, plays Bill, a lawyer; and Alexis Korbe, Hays junior, plays his wife, Sally.
In "The Medium," Emily Cline, Lyons junior, and Laura Decker, Lindsborg senior, play Madam Flora ("Baba"); Kathleen Steinert, Lyons junior, plays Monica, Baba's daughter;
Trevor Waechter, Lakin freshman, plays Toby, a mute; Tiffany (Lawrence) Nix, Beloit senior, plays Mrs. Gobineau; her husband, Mr. Gobineau, is played by Kyle Zecha, Hoisington senior; and Alexis Corbett, Garden City senior, plays Mrs. Nolan.
Tickets are $10 general admission, $5 for FHSU students, students age 12 and under and for senior citizens. Tickets can be reserved at the Student Service Center, (785) 628-5306.