Opera students have been studiously rehearsing and preparing in the depths of the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts for their shows “Down in the Valley” and “Speed Dating Tonight" scheduled to premiere on Friday and Saturday.
OSU has a history of hosting plays and musicals, but few operas; the opera is a different medium of expression. Vocal performance graduate Matthew McKinnon got into opera late in his college career.
“I’ve always loved singing,” McKinnon said. “My voice feature really pushed me to do opera. This is actually my first opera. I didn’t do opera in undergrad, so this is kind of a new opportunity.”
Opera is not as popular as mainstream music. From the singing to the storytelling, Martha Beaty, a vocal music education major, understands why some students might be uninterested in the genre.
“I think the stories in operas can be harder for people to get into,” Beaty said. “Most operas are not as current as current musicals. When a big musical comes out, there’s a lot of press about it. Operas can seem outdated and sort of old. Lots of people don’t think they’ll be interested. Our generation feels that way about a lot of classical music. I think there’s a lot of really cool storylines in operas, and you don’t necessarily need to understand the words that people are saying.”
The opera offers something different from typical shows. It features a different style of singing not shown in musicals or typical concerts. The different style of singing means pushing the performance, and vocal performance student Kennedy Conrad agrees.
“I think the opera is definitely just something to take you out of your norm,” Conrad said. “Being a college student is just so stressful. Just spending a night being totally at the whim of the actors on stage and being taken out of Stillwater, really, and just into this new place and this new story is just something people should really enjoy.”
The students starring in the opera have a passion for the art, and many of them have career goals within this sphere.
“I’ve been singing for a long time, but I’ve never done an opera,” Beaty said. “Being here at OSU, I went to see opera performances last year, and I was really interested in doing something like that because being a vocal student, we get a lot of opportunities to do choral music, but it’s very different from singing operatically.”
The performers and stage producers, like vocal education student Amanda Barber, have been rehearsing for weeks putting together a show, and they hope for a large crowd on both nights of their performance.
“People should come to the opera because the operas that we’re doing are very accessible,” Barber said. “I think people will be surprised at how it’s an opera. It’s not boring. I think people perceive operas as being boring because either they’re not in English, or they’re just old. But I find beauty in how time passes.”
”Down in the Valley” and ”Speed Dating Tonight” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evening at the McKnight Center for Performing Arts.