Fairy tale opera shines light on student talent

Draven Jackson

Staff Writer

Students of Troy’s Opera Workshop class performed a fairy tale opera in Claudia Crosby Theater on Friday, Feb. 24.

In “The Magic Flute,” an opera written by Mozart around 1791, Prince Tamino is saved from death by three dark ladies who work for the Queen of the Night. The queen promises Tamino he can marry her daughter, Pamina, if he can save her from Sarastro, her father, who has captured her.

Sarah Hunt, a senior theater major from Huntsville, portrayed the character of Princess Pamina. She said she found many similarities and differences between herself and her character.

“She is so dramatic and so am I, but I’m definitely not as dramatic,” Hunt said. “Also, a lot of things happen to her that I feel like wouldn’t happen to me, partially because I am not a princess and partially because magic isn’t a real thing.

“Beyond that, I also feel like she is a little hopeless sometimes. But I think she is kind and I think she cares about the people she meets, and I like to think that we have that in common as well.”

Christina Amonson, an assistant professor of voice, is the director of Opera Workshop. She began the class when she started working at Troy in order to introduce opera to students.

Opera Workshop tries to put on a different operatic piece each semester.

“I always look for shows with a lot of characters or a big chorus so that I can give the most people the most time onstage,” Amonson said. “I also don’t want the same people singing leads every semester, that way a lot of people get an opportunity and so far, that really happens.

“Sometimes it really happens naturally because one person may be extraordinary in one area, but that isn’t going to be the lead in every show. For example, Nathan, who was the understudy, has had small parts of chorus for 4 years, so it’s kind of awesome how, as an understudy, he really got to step into it and be the prince for once.”

Nathan Stroud, a senior choral music education major from Dennison, Texas, while originally an understudy, played the part of Tamino.

“The main guy that was going to do Tamino dropped out and so I had to learn everything again and forget all my chorus stuff,” Stroud said.

Later, Stroud said, he had to rejoin the chorus and relearn the music.

“Learning the music has been the hardest part for me,” Stroud said, “just making sure I have down everything correctly with the cuts that happened and all that.”

The opera followed Tamino’s harrowing journey aided by friends he meets along the way, three spirits, and, of course, the magic flute. The opera involved themes of self-sacrifice, true love and good versus evil.

The performance lasted an hour and 20 minutes, though many parts were cut from the 2-hour opera.

Melanie McGilberry, a freshman English major from Sweetwater, attended Friday night’s performance.

“I think my favorite part of the performance had to be the wide vocal ranges of some of the singers, like with the guy that played Sorastro (Jay Bowdain) and the girl who played the Queen of the Knight (Susie Busch),” McGilberry said. “The way they were able to reach such impossibly low and high notes was really amazing.”

The class, which is an elective that meets two days a week, is not a requirement for music majors, but is open to anyone on campus who is interested in learning about opera and classical music, according to Stroud.

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