Yale Opera performs scenes

The Yale Opera performed its sole campus event of the fall semester on Friday and Saturday nights.

Kicking off its 2008-’09 season, the Opera performed its annual Opera Scenes, an event that showcases acts from famous operas. The Saturday night performance, directed by Vera Lucia Calabria, featured modern renditions of classic scenes in German, French, Italian and Russian, with English translations projected onto a screen. Singers were clad in contemporary clothing — a far cry from opera’s stereotypical puffy dresses and pantaloons.

The audience filled Morse Recital Hall to see the Opera perform selections from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” Pytor Tchaikovsky’s “Iolanta,” Franz Lehar’s “Fruhling” and Jules Massenet’s “Don Quichotte” and “Manon.”

Patrons of the performance, who were mainly non-students, sang praises of the Opera afterwards. Many called themselves faithful regulars of the Yale Opera. The final curtain call was met with thunderous applause.

“I think they get better every year,” said Tanya Kagan, who works in Yale’s Accounts Payable office. “This year’s program seems to be very promising, and I’m sure it’ll be great.”

Despite its outward prestige, the Yale Opera is a relatively small program, enrolling only about 15 students each year. Emily Righter MUS ’09, a mezzo-soprano in the opera, said the limited number of singers allows for a level of closeness that would be difficult to achieve in a larger program.

The Yale Opera allows its singers to find their individual niche, she said. The upcoming performance of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” will showcase each singer’s talents, she added.

As a result, members of the Yale Opera said it offers opportunities unheard of at other institutions. Each year, some of the most famous opera directors come to audition Yale opera singers, and graduates of the Yale Opera are presented with a wide array of career opportunities.

“Some of my friends from other opera programs are in awe of what happens here at Yale,” Righter said.

Yet it seems that the prestige of the Yale Opera is lost on Yalies. The audience Saturday night was composed mostly of older New Haven citizens and Yale employees. Despite the discounted tickets offered to students, few attended. Seven students interviewed said that Yale simply did not promote or publicize the existence — or, for that matter, the excellence — of the Yale Opera.

And even students who had signed up for the Opera’s mailing list said they did not receive notification of the performance. Around campus, there seemed to be a conspicuous lack of flyers advertising the event.

The students who attended the show on Saturday night said they thoroughly enjoyed the performance. “I don’t get to see opera very much, so this is a real treat for me,” said Ted Palenski ’10.

The Yale Opera will perform Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at the Shubert Theater from Feb. 13 to 15.

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