The University of Southern Mississippi Southern Opera and Musical Theatre will present the first main stage production of the 2009-10 season, a double-bill of two classic operas with a modern twist – Giacomo Puccini’s comical “Gianni Schicchi” and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s tragic “I Pagliacci.”
The operas will take the stage Tuesday, Oct. 20 and Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center Auditorium (MPAC) on the Hattiesburg campus.
“In one evening, you get two very diverse faces of opera – comedy and tragedy,” said Dr. Jay Dean, music director for both productions. “These are great works that showcase the diverse and amazing talent of our students.”
Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” was first performed in the Metropolitan Opera in 1918. The Southern Miss production will be set in present day and performed in English. Thieone-act opera is based on a story referred to in Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” It is best known for the soprano aria, “O mio babbino caro” (Oh, my dear papa), featured in a number of movies and other works.
Chris Jennings, a junior vocal performance major, plays the lead role of Gianni Schicchi. “Don’t let the names scare you,” said Jennings, a native of Nashville. “This is a funny opera with an entire cast of unworthy relatives fighting over the estate of their deceased uncle.”
Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci,” tells the story of clowns, passion, love and a husband’s jealousy. First performed in Milan in 1892, it consists of a prologue and two acts. This production will be performed in Italian with supertitles. Jennifer Hart, a graduate student from Chicago majoring in vocal performance, plays the wife Nedda.
“This is a timeless production,” said Hart. “We have modernized the setting to present day, but the classic story remains the same – a love triangle with tragic consequences.”
Noted opera authority and long-time announcer for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, William Fulton, will give a pre-show talk on Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. titled “The World of Opera.” Fulton now works with New York’s famed Metropolitan Opera, which as hosted performances of both “I Pagliacci” and “Gianni Schicchi.” His talk is free and open to the public; however, tickets must be purchased in advance for the operas.
Tickets are available at the Southern Miss Ticket Office at 601.266.5418 or online at www.southernmisstickets.com .
The Southern Opera and Musical Theatre will present “I Pagliacci” and “Gianni Schicchi” Tuesday, Oct. 20 and Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.