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Released February 18, 2005



HATTIESBURG – The University of Southern Mississippi Honors College Forum Series will present a lively panel discussion on sex, politics, and religion in opera at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, at the Mannoni Performing Arts Center Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.

Panel members will include William Fulton, director of Arts and Cultural Programs at Mississippi Public Broadcasting; Father Hill Riddle of Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans, La.; and Todd Miller, professor of music at Kingwood (Texas) College.

This presentation coincides with the upcoming production of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah Feb. 26-27, presented by Southern Opera and Musical Theatre and the Symphony Orchestra at Southern Miss.

Opera, as an art form, is replete with librettos that have all the intrigue issuing from the entanglements of sex, politics and religion. From famous operas such as Tosca, La Traviata, or The Marriage of Figaro up to modern operas such as The Klinghoffer Affair, Nixon in China or Susannah, whether the politics of world affairs or rural churches, the sexual exploits of 18th century counts or misguided wearers of the cloth, these three topics--sex, politics and religion--are ever present and often become not just an observation of social mores and historical times but rather the center of the plot.

Fulton is a well-recognized figure not only to Mississippi audiences for his radio persona and guest appearances on radio broadcasts, but also as a nationally sought-after aficionado for his expertise and wealth of knowledge about the world of opera. He has appeared numerous times on the Metropolitan Opera Saturday national broadcasts as a guest on the famous Opera Quiz. He has also served as moderator for the Youth Opera Quiz and lecturer for the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

Fulton has lectured repeatedly for New Orleans Opera, Mississippi Opera, Hot Springs Music Festival in Arkansas and at St. John's College in New Mexico. His studies at the University of Florida, at Schiller College in Heidelberg, Germany, and Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, gave him many opportunities to see opera around the world. Not only does he know the topic intellectually, but he also performs regularly. He appears in small roles with the Mississippi Opera each season causing him to be fondly referred to as "the Alfred Hitchcock of Mississippi Opera," because he can always be found somewhere on stage.

Riddle received his bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, and his master's and doctorate of divinity degrees from the Virginia Theological Seminary. His lifelong love of opera and his long career in the field of theology give him a breadth of knowledge ideal for the topic of "Sex, Politics and Religion in Opera."

Miller, professor of music at Kingwood College in Kingwood, Texas, near Houston, serves as artistic director and conductor for the Kingwood Chorale and Chamber Orchestra and conducts the Chamber Singers and the Summer Opera Workshop. He recently received one of three annual awards at Kingwood College for teaching excellence. In Houston, Miller made his professional opera-conducting debut in the Opera in the Heights' production of Mozart's The Magic Flute.

He later returned to Opera in the Heights to sing the role of the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's Rigoletto. Recently, he made his debut with the Houston Symphony as the tenor soloist in Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard. He holds a doctorate of musical arts in voice and conducting from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston, where he studied under Charles Hausmann, Katherine Ciesinski, Elena Nikolaidi, and the composer of Susannah, Carlisle Floyd, who was the focal point of his doctoral studies.

For more information about the panel discussion, call (601) 266-4533. For tickets for the upcoming production of Susannah, call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425.


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April 6, 2005 3:15 PM