On November 18 and 20, Northern State University will be hosting their first operatic event in almost a decade in the Black Box Theatre in JFAC.
The opera, Gianni Schicci by Giacomo Puccini, is about a family coming together in Florence, Italy in order to work out who is going to inherit the riches of a deceased family member. As was the style of most comedic opera at the time, shenanigans ensue.
The students and faculty of Northern are also throwing in a twist for this production. Instead of being set in Renaissance Italy, the show will be set in a 1950’s version of Florence South Dakota with hillbillies, moonshine, and banjos.
Another interesting aspect of the show is that the music department will be bringing in a world renowned opera performer, Mark Walters, as well as an NSU alumni, Anthony Rohr.
Walters has performed all over the world, and we are very excited to have him. As for Rohr, he graduated from Northern with a degree in vocal performance, and his most notable role while a student at Northern was that of Jean Valjean in Northern’s production of Les Misérables. Some of the current students involved in the opera are Annie Woodmansy, Elsa Swanson, and, playing the leading lady, Dannika Michelson.
A large majority of the vocal music department is involved. Dr. Marla Fogderud, Dr. Darci Bultema, and Michael Skyles are taking an active role in areas such as producing, directing, costuming, and props.
Since the show will be held in the Black Box Theatre, audience members can expect the venue to be close and personal. If you went to the production of Next to Normal, you will know what to expect.
At times, the actors may be mere feet away from the audience. It adds an intimacy that is very difficult to achieve in a traditional theatre setting. Be sure to attend the first operatic event in the new Johnson Fine Art Center as it will be one to remember.
Tickets are available at the JFAC ticket booth, open 12-4 on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
Elsa Swanson practices her role of Nella in preparation for the upcoming opera. Photo credit Balie Albrecht.