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Begged, borrowed or stolen: a night at the Opera

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Gilda and Rigoletto look on to see the Duke (Israel Campa / The Signpost)

The Weber State University music department hosted their Opera Scenes night on Oct. 25, where students performed beloved scenes from acclaimed and historical operas, including “The Ride of the Valkyries,” “The Magic Flute,” “Don Giovanni,” “Rigoletto,” “The Old Maid,” “The Thief”, “Lolanthe” and “Into the Woods.”

The students’ performances included iterations of the operas in their original languages, such as Italian, German, French and English.

Dr. Karen Bruestle, director of voice and opera at WSU, directed the performances and said they had been working on the scenes for opera night since August.

“Opera is part of the students’ training in the music program and helps them to further their careers and education while at the same time providing quality entertainment for the campus and the broader community,” Bruestle said. “Opera combines every type of art form possible and is considered emotionally powerful for most people. It’s visually and aurally satisfying.”

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All the performers in the first act set the expectations high for the rest of the performances (Israel Campa / The Signpost)

James D. Brunker is a music education major with an emphasis in choral conducting. For Opera Scenes, Brunker was the principal or lead role in certain scenes while also the backup role in other scenes.

“That’s the beauty of Opera Scenes: everyone has an equal role, which gives everybody a chance to shine,” Brunker said.

For Brunker, singing opera is all about the challenge.

“What most people don’t realize is that opera is so heavily focused on basic techniques. When it comes to singing in any style, you use the same techniques you would use in opera,” Brunker said. “It’s more challenging for me to learn an entire show in Italian. There are different barriers, and you get the opportunity to learn another language.”

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Audrey Christensen, Brookelyn Bell, and Azaria Mailo wait for their scene (Israel Campa / The Signpost)

Brunker was introduced to music early because of his family, who are also musically involved.

“I got introduced to music very young. ‘Les Misérables’ was my favorite show of all time. I wanted to sound exactly how the actors sounded,” Brunker said. “I started exploring choirs and taking voice lessons. My vocal coach helped me start exploring the opera world, which opened so many doors for me.”

WSU student Audrey Christensen found her passion for opera in middle school after hearing an opera singer perform at a church activity she attended.

“I’ve always loved to sing, and I’ve always had a bigger and louder voice. When I heard this opera singer sing, that’s when I decided I wanted to do opera too,” Christensen said. “Since then, I’ve worked on my voice and pursued opera when I got here because Weber has a great opera program.”

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Tamino runs away from the tiger that is trying to get him (Israel Campa / The SIgnpost)

Christensen was most excited about preforming the opening scene “The Ride of the Valkyries,” which was sung in German.

“That performance was big operatic singing. There were a lot of high notes that I got to pound out, and hitting high notes is always really fun for me,” Christensen said.

Christensen said she hoped the audience left the Opera Scenes night feeling like they wanted to hear more because it’s not very often that people can go out for a night and listen to some of the most powerful voices in the business.

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