Workshop tests talent with diverse repertoire

- Jeff Primozich/ For the Review

Julia Long

Wild West lovers, witches, wraiths and wannabes will unite May 10 in Ice Auditorium to pay homage to American opera.

A combination of Linfield music students and one professional will collaborate on
various duets and chorus works in “Opera Theater: 150 Years of American Opera”
8 p.m. May 10.

The show consists of scenes from Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Medium” and the entirety of Henry Mollicone’s “The Face on the Barroom Floor,” both representing exemplary American chamber operas from the 20th century.

In addition to the chamber operas, the drinking song “Libiamo” from Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” and duets from the musicals “Show Boat” and “Wicked” will be performed.

Professor of Music Gwen Leonard said American opera did not really take flight until the 20th century, which is why the selected works do not date from more than 100 years ago.

The performance will involve all Linfield students with the exception of Portland professional Sherry Olson, who will play the leading role of the psychic Baba in “The Medium.” Olson’s mezzo soprano voice will carry a lot of weight in the piece, which requires a mature sound, Leonard said.

Preparation for the project has spanned the
semester and has included long rehearsals and diligent work by the students.

“This kind of singing is a stretch for collegiate singers,” Leonard said. “The music is not conventional in terms of tone, so they’ve really had to work the program into their voices.”

Those attending the performance will gain
exposure to the art and style of the music from our past, which can be revealing about the development of music, Leonard said. If anything inspires people to attend, it should be curiosity.

Sophomore Melissa Davaz, who will command a leading a role in “The Medium,” said she has gained more than singing experience from her participation in the show.

“Everyone has become very close friends, and our friendships extend beyond rehearsal time,” Davaz said. “Having that kind of chemistry makes us better performers. It takes a lot of work, but musicians do what they do because in the end they get to be a part of something beautiful.”

The show’s theme of 150 years emerged in association with Linfield’s 150th birthday, which will be
celebrated through various events this weekend.

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