The powerful voices of the CSULB Opera Institute filled the Gerald Daniel Recital Hall on Nov. 3 and 4, for its Opera Masterpieces show as the performers acted out scenes from various operas.
To set the theme for the show, a picture of the seaside was projected onto a screen, the lighting in the auditorium dimmed and the women of the ensemble walked out slowly from both doors on the sides of the room singing a haunting story of the Siren Myth. A total of 13 scenes were performed, all tied together with the common theme of desire.
Following performances included works by composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. Since the songs were sung in either French, Italian or German, English translations were displayed on an overhead screen for the audience to follow along.
Suzan Hanson, artist for the Long Beach Opera is the guest stage director while David Anglin is musical director.
“The songs were chosen to feature [the performers],” Anglin said. “We want a program that’s interesting for the audience but it’s predominantly about who we have and what is good for them, both to feature what their strengths are and to stretch them.”
Junior vocal performance major Melina Adragna said Hanson helped her greatly on stage to handle her nerves. She’s said she’s still learning how to channel her anxiety into positive energy, but Hanson has helped boost her confidence.
“[Hanson] just says, ‘Do it, go for it,’ because you’re kind of vulnerable,” Adragna said.
Auditions for the show were held in September and two to three weeks were spent learning the music. About six weeks were spent staging the performance.
The performers were assigned a song and required to learn and memorize it in a language that isn’t their native tongue as well as learn what the lyrics mean.
“I go home, I listen to recordings on YouTube, I play it on the piano, I put the text in with the melody,” Adragna said. “You work with others so you kind of learn their part and their translation and you’re developing the character as it goes along.”
At the show, every performer’s voice was mesmerizing and the emotions of their characters were communicated well. The performers seemed to enjoy themselves on stage and the audience reciprocated that joy.
After every scene, the sound of applause rang through the auditorium and during the intermission, many people in the crowd took the opportunity to mingle and share how impressed they were with the performers.
Niko Murakami, fourth-year vocal performance major has participated in Long Beach State opera performances for the past four years and said she thinks the music gets better each year.
“If people come and see this, they would be really taken away by how beautiful opera can be, the music and how it can relate to them in the real world,” Murakami said. “I think it will really touch everybody’s hearts. I want to keep giving a great show every performance.”
The next opera performance at the university will be Opera Scenes at the Gerald Daniel Recital Hall 2 p.m. Nov. 17. The show is under the direction of Brian Farrell and Eli Villanueva. General admission is $10 and tickets for seniors and students are $7.