Opera Scenes class showcases its work with performance

(Photo By Lauren Crest) Morgan Hopkins and Brock Robinson will perform together for one night only.
(Photo by Lauren Crest) Morgan Hopkins and Brock Robison will perform together in A Night of Opera Scenes.


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(Photo by Lauren Crest) Karen Bruestle (right) directs the one-night showing of the Opera Scenes class production.

For one night only, music professor Karen Bruestle and a small group of opera students will bring a variety of music, from Mozart to musical theater, in the “theater of imagination” at Weber State University.

Taken as a class, Opera Scenes is a unique experience for students to perform scenes from different operas and musicals without performing the entire shows. At the end of the semester, these scenes are performed in black box, meaning with minimal props and set pieces in a completely black theater with performers dressed all in black.

“We’re doing everything in its original language, so I’ve got Italian, French and English,” Bruestle said. “Mozart’s ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ is represented; ‘Little Women’, ‘Tales of Hoffman’ and Donizetti’s ‘Anna Bolena’ are all included this year.”

Opera Scenes is an opportunity for vocal students to not only broaden their repertoire, but learn to do more than “park and bark,” as Bruestle said.

“It’s not just parking and barking,” Bruestle said. “It’s performing and being connected with the music no matter what the language is, and hopefully that will translate to the audience and they will be able to enjoy that.”

Arianne Hellewell, a senior in vocal pedagogy and the intern for Opera Scenes, said she loves watching her classmates perform in a new environment and hearing the potential each student holds as a performer.

“You don’t realize they have these amazing voices because, when you hear them sing in master class, they’re singing to be critiqued, which is really nerve-wracking,” Hellewell said. “In Opera Scenes, they just get to perform. The songs that are picked do really well in their vocal fach, which is a person’s vocal specialty. The songs are each picked so that it really showcases their voice. You get to see them act and do more than just sing a song.”

Hellewell said a great variety of music is presented in Opera Scenes this semester, not just in form and style but in content.

“There will scenes that you will fall in love with, there will be scenes that are heartbreaking, there are scenes that are meaningful, scenes that will make you mad,” she said. “There’s just a huge variety of things.”

Hellewell said that one reason she thinks students should come to the Opera Scenes performance is to broaden musical horizons and gain a greater appreciation for a wide variety of art. She also said the show is a great place for students to experience the best of several operas in one sitting.

“I think that music is such a huge part of who we are and why we do what we do,” Hellewell said. “It affects us emotionally and physically and in ways that we don’t truly understand . . . It’s so fun when emotions are conveyed to an audience from the stage; it’s a powerful thing, and this gives you an opportunity to get the best of these works in one sitting without having to sit through an entire opera.”

Brock Robison, a freshman studying vocal performance, said Opera Scenes has given him the opportunity to perform in roles he wouldn’t have been able to at any other school. Robison also said he finds it important for students to attend the Opera Scenes recital because he believes “it makes you a better person to be culturally literate. If we create an environment here at the university that’s more culturally literate and people are supporting the performing arts and sporting events and they’re participating at the activities, they’re going to be more prepared and capable citizens when they graduate. If people gave opera a chance, I think they’d think it’s cool.”

The Opera Scenes class will perform tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the Browning Center’s Eccles Theater. Tickets cost $7, or $6 with student ID.