Setting The Stage For South’s Opera

By Celina Sun
Marriage, murder, and political strife are coming to South— in the form of this year’s opera, Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Based off Beaumarchais’ play La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro, the comedic opera follows the story of The Count’s servant Figaro in his attempt to prevent The Count from taking advantage of Susanna, his fiancée and a servant of The Countess. The plot is further complicated by several subplots in which scheming adults and a love-struck teen take the stage.
The opera’s cast, following Lorenzo Da Ponte’s libretto, or text for the opera, will be performing the whole show in Italian.
“A few of [the cast members] go to diction teachers, who are experts in [Italian], to [learn how to] authentically sing the language,” said junior Giovanni Xu, who plays the role of Don Basilio. Others, like Xu, however, will instead read the poetic translation of the opera first to get an understanding of the plot and then go back to the libretto with their International Phonetic Alphabet guide for the proper pronunciations.
Prospective audience members need not worry about having to brush up on their Italian, however, since supertitles will be projected onto a screen located above the stage to translate both the dialogue and the songs.
“Even without the text,” Xu said, “the music is so moving that it can stand alone.”
Audiences can expect a performance of high-level music. Xu said: “Opera really is like the Olympics of singing.”
Featuring classical pieces, the opera is not quite like the musical or the play. It calls for a different performance style and demands more from the performers, who have to be able to sing and sustain notes from a wide range of registers.
The show involves an eleven-member cast, South’s instrumental and choral programs, and members of the Lakeville and Saddle Rock choral programs.
“The opera is something we all love being involved with,” said Dr. Pamela Levy, the opera’s musical director.
“The opera is about challenging all of our students on all levels,” said Mr. Michael Schwartz, conductor of the opera’s pit orchestra. “It’s something you won’t see at most public high schools.”
Senior Michelle Geffner, who plays The Countess, said, “It’s so challenging, but the good kind of challenge. [Like] the way that athletes push their bodies to the absolute limits. […] It’s rewarding.”
In addition to a night of music, audiences can also expect conflict, drama, and humor to abound in Le Nozze di Figaro. Essentially, like all other forms of theatre, the opera is designed to entertain.
The show will be performed on Fri., March 27 and Sat., March 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be available for student purchase a week prior at five dollars a ticket.