Student opera comes to life with expert directors

5:48 PM, Jan 16, 2013   |    comments
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How are you spending your January? Students at Maryville College are taking so-called J-Term classes between semesters.

One of the classes is all about opera.

For about nine hours a day a stage at Maryville College comes to life with opera.

"Music makes you happy. Music makes everybody happy," Maryville College sophomore Drew Hatcher said.

He is one of about a dozen students taking the intense month-long opera performance class.

"The directors they've brought in are very prestigious and very accomplished and it's such an honor to be working with them," he said.

Delores Ziegler is one of two guest directors teaching the class. She is a Maryville College graduate who performed opera professionally for 30 years.

"What do I love about opera? I love the music I love the libretto, the text. And I love when it comes to life. It's live theater. It's live theater," Delores Ziegler said.

Hatcher said, "No microphones in opera. Everything is live natural sound. So sometimes it's hard to get all the way to the back of the audience especially if it's a deep theater."

The students are getting a taste of opera outside a full scale production by performing opera scenes.

"Whether they go on to become opera singers doesn't matter. It's that they learned something about themselves," Ziegler said.

They're learning what makes opera different from other types of music and performance.

"Opera requires a lot of precision. Whereas in jazz or something you can ad lib a little hit, add your own twist, opera is right on the dot with the sheet music," Hatcher said.

Ziegler said, "It's all about timing. When you get to the performance it looks like, oh, that's easy. What's so hard about that? You don' t know the hours that went in to exactly the timing for him to get over there at exactly the right time to try to go out the door and look at exactly the right time. It's a lot of timing and choreography but they all have to do it and make it look natural."

They'll go from practice to performance to complete the course with shows at high schools and at Maryville College.

"If you love soap operas you've got to love operas because these stories are even crazier than soap operas are," Ziegler said.

Thursday and Friday the students will perform at three high schools: Karns, Webb, and Seymour.

The public is invited to a free performance at Maryville College February 1st. It is free but you have to reserve a seat.

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