Oklahoma City University News
Operatic Comedy, Tragedy Take OCU Stage Feb. 25-27
The dust of a
Depression-era work camp and the sheen of the golden age of Hollywood provide
an updated twist on two Italian opera classics at the Bass School of Music at
Oklahoma City University.
tragic “Pagliacci” and Giacomo Puccini’s comic “Gianni Schicchi” share top
billing on OCU’s historic Kirkpatrick stage Feb. 25-27.
“Leoncavallo was the
Tarentino of his time with edge, violence, and sexuality presented in a
music-driven stylized way,” director David Herendeen said. “With Pagliacci,
Leoncavallo became the poster child for the Verismo opera movement. The opera
spoke in a language closer to the street emotionally. The show was their
version of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”
Performances are 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, with a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets ($12-25) available
from 405.208.5227 or www.okcu.edu/tickets. David Herendeen, director of OCU’s Oklahoma Opera
and Music Theater Company, will give a free talk 45 minutes the curtain, in
Both operas will feature
professional costumes, sets, and full orchestra. “Pagliacci” will be performed
in Italian, with translations projected above the stage, under the musical
direction of Benjamin Nilles. “Gianni Schicchi” will be performed in English,
with the orchestra under the baton of Matthew Mailman.
Rather than the traditional
setting of the 19th century Italian countryside, Herendeen is
staging “Pagliacci” in a 1939 work camp “not unlike that depicted in The Grapes
of Wrath…We see people with genuine woes whose lives are brightened by the
visit of a theatre troupe, who then witness a double murder as the performance
“Pagliacci” is anchored by
one of opera's most famous and popular arias, "Vesti la giubba," performed by the tragic
clown of the opera’s title. A recording of Enrico Caruso singing the aria became the first record to sell one
The opening opera will be
followed by “Gianni Schicchi,” a broad slapstick comedy re-imagined in 1939
The story opens at the
deathbed of Buoso Donati, an Oscar-winning film producer. His gathered family
is awash in shallow grief. Their most intense emotions are reserved for the
inheritance that awaits them.
“Gianni Schicchi is
genuinely funny, not forced like in many comic operas where we, the audience,
search in hope of finding of humor,” Herendeen said. “Our production speaks in
old movie comedic language: broad vaudeville Marx Brothers versus
provocative slick Coen Brothers.”
Friday’s performances will
be preceded with an opening night dinner ($20 in advance; 405.208.5227) in the
Atrium of the Bass Music Center, 2501 N. Blackwelder. The Italian-themed buffet
will feature performances by Bass School student musicians.
For more information on
news and upcoming events at OCU’s Bass School, visit www.okcu.edu/music or www.facebook.com/bassschoolofmusic.