Twists to classics make opera a blast

The UMHB Opera performed Rita and Little Red’s Most Unusual Day Feb. 10. Music lovers gathered to watch the performance at the Cultural Activities Center in Temple.

George Hogan, director of the UMHB opera/musical theater program, UMHB Opera Cru and an instructor of applied voice, directed the opera.

The first performance was  a tuned-up version of Little Red Riding Hood, which was renamed Little Red’s Most Unusual Day by John Davies.

The play was first performed by the opera students  to several thousand school-age children from the area for the Arts and Education Program put on by the Cultural Activities Center. Last semester, the Opera performed 10 shows in a week for the children.

Guest performer Tyrone Chambers, center, plays a stuttering forest ranger with Josiah Davis, who played Mr. Bigbad. Photo by Lauren Jones.

Freshman vocal performance major who played Little Red, Haide Gonzales, said, “My favorite scene to perform is when I realize my granny isn’t granny, but instead the Big Bad Wolf because the kids are more scared than I am. In fact, I loved every minute of it. When we did the production in the fall for the school district. It was amazing to see the kids get so into it. I loved when I had to say Dudley, the forest ranger (Ranger-Rover), ‘wanted to be mom’s boyfriend’ because the kids always thought it was so disgusting and openly expressed it.”

An orchestra and a conductor were new additions that some of the cast had to adjust to.

Sophomore vocal performance major, who played Mr. Bigbad (the Wolf) in Little Red and Gasparo in Rita, Josiah Davis said, “Working with the orchestra was definitely new because I have pretty limited experience working with an orchestra and following a conductor. I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to sing and act while you’re watching someone out of the corner of your eye who’s trying to tell you cues and stuff. So that was tough. By the time the performances rolled around, we got it together.”

Rita by Gaetano Donizetti, is a play about an abusive wife who believed her husband, Gasparo, had drowned, while Gasparo thought Rita had died an unfathomable death as well. Beppe played by Matt Klepac is Rita’s new husband who puts up with her temper and abuse.

Through a series of spectacular events, they all come face to face, and the laughs, exquisite sound and acting phone through.

Junior vocal performance major who played Grandma Hood and Rita, Elizabeth Pasichnyk, commented on her most memorable moments performing Rita.

The mood of the play holds much sarcasm when Rita antagonizes Beppe constantly by confessing her love for him and then snatching it right back.

When he breaks a beloved porcelain cup, she exclaims, “You’re an idiot!”

Rita constantly toys with Beppe until she realizes that he is really injudicious.

Pasichnyk said, “It’s fun because it’s this 180 you get to experience with the character. Then she realizes, ‘Well this guy really is a buffoon.’ Then she’s name calling him and gets to slap him. It’s just so fun because Beppe is such the comic relief of the show …. Getting to play with Matt Klepac who is a professional, was just a blast.”


Author: Kirby Franze

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