A Look Behind the Scenes at LSU Opera: Performing in Foreign Languages, Selecting Operas | Entertainment
Speaking two languages is no small feat. Having to learn a new language in a few weeks to perform an opera in front of dozens of people added an extra level of difficulty for the students involved in “Viva Italia!”
“Viva Italia!”, presented by LSU’s Turner-Fischer Center for Opera earlier this semester, spotlighted many famous arias and choruses from Italy. It showcased the wonderful world of country music, as every word was sung in Italian.
In order to perform the songs correctly, the students had to learn each word and the pronunciations at their own pace, so that they would be prepared for rehearsals.
Chorus member Lily Hodges, a sophomore in vocal performance, said her process was to “say the words before applying the notes to them.”
Since the choir members only met to rehearse twice a week, there was a lot of individual practice needed.
“It was tough at first, but once I was able to get it it was really easy,” Hodges said.
In addition to learning the words in a foreign language, the actors had to memorize their lines.
The last song of “Viva Italia!” », « Sarìa possibile?… Dell’elisir mirabile » from L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti has 43 pages. It lasts about 10 minutes when sung – depending on the version of the song.
The entire show lasted over an hour and not a single word, note or pronunciation was out of place. You didn’t have to know what was being said to understand the emotion and character of the songs.
But if the passion behind each sung word wasn’t enough, the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts is sure to display exhibitors so the audience can better understand the context of the performance.
If you’ve ever taken the LSU Tiger Trails buses, you’ve probably thought at some point, “I could literally walk faster than that.”
The audience may wonder why use exponents instead of singing in English?
Cullen Sadler, marketing coordinator for LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts, provided some insight.
“The opera program is one of the oldest of its kind,” Sadler said.
The program began in the 1930s and the tradition of performing operas in the original language has continued until today.
Not only does the history of the campus opera program respect the original composition of the pieces, but the state of Louisiana remains heavily influenced by its time as a French colony, where classical art forms were highly valued.
This weekend, the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts presents “Cendrillon,” a French operatic retelling of the “Cinderella” story.
If anyone is unfamiliar with the on-campus opera program, this opera will be a great introduction. Even though the show will be in French, most people know the story and will be able to follow the plot and enjoy the show.
Although some may stereotype opera as a boring art form, in reality the performances are full of life.
Much of the energy in LSU productions comes from the students involved. The students are able to interpret the songs and the staging in different ways. While someone may have seen a performance at LSU in the 90s, if they were to see the same show again today, there would be something new to enjoy.
This uniqueness is further perpetuated by the selection process that takes place each school year.
Dugg McDonough, artistic director of the Turner-Fischer Center for Opera at LSU, first begins the selection process by reviewing the ability of incoming singers. McDonough chooses what will be fun and slightly challenging for the students.
“There’s a lot of thought in there,” he said.
The program tries to select at least two plays per year that require an orchestra. And on top of that, affordability should also be considered.
With all the little bits that need to be meticulously handled, it’s no surprise that a lot of effort goes into these jaw-dropping performances.
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You can watch “Cinderella” on Friday, November 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Shaver Theater, located in the Music and Drama Building on campus. Student tickets are $12. There is also a performance at 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 13.