CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Nov. 17, 2000
University of Iowa Opera Theater kicks off 'A Year of Comedy' with one-acts
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Martha Ellen Tye Opera Theater
will kick off "A Year of Comedy" with performances of two one-act
operas -- "La canterina" (The singer) by Joseph Haydn and "La
serva padrona" (The maid as mistress) by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
-- at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 7-9, in Theatre B of the UI Theatre
The performances will also include "Introductions and Goodbyes"
by Lukas Foss, a 9-minute comic "curtain-raiser" presented in the
lobby of the Theatre Building before each performance.
The cast will feature students in the UI School of Music. Stage direction
will be by Sally Stunkel, the director of the UI Opera Theater. Musical accompaniment
will be provided by pianist Shari Rhoads, the new vocal coach and musical
director of the Opera Theater.
An experienced vocal coach with an extensive career in European opera houses,
Rhoads joined the UI faculty in August. These performances will be her debut
with the Opera Theater.
"It is safe to say Rhoads has coached most of the great singers of
our time, and the opera department of the School of Music is thrilled to add
such experience and depth to our program," Stunkel said.
The year-long emphasis on comic opera will continue in the spring semester,
with performances April 27 and 29 of "Tartuffe," a contemporary
setting by American composer Kirke Meechem of the classic comic play by Moliere.
In "La canterina," the aspiring, young soprano Gasparina plays
with the affections and the gifts of the men in her life: the rich Don Ettore,
who is always bearing gifts, and her voice teacher Don Pelagio, who has given
her all her basic necessities of life. Her equally ambitious stage mother
Apollonia tries desperately to keep Gasparinas business affairs in order.
When the men discover Gasparinas deception and the mother and daughter
are threatened with expulsion from their home, the young soprano uses all
her theatrical skills to try to overact her way out of trouble.
The role of Gasparina will be sung by soprano Lisa Kotara and Apollonia
by soprano Amanda Hyberger. Don Ettore -- a "pants role," where
a woman sings the part of a man -- will be performed by soprano Alison Leaheey.
Tenor Jeff Kruger will be Don Pelagio.
Based on the Italian comedia dellarte tradition of improvised comedy,
"La serva padrona" is considered to be a work of great genius and
originality. It helped create the style of Italian comic opera, or "opera
buffa," and it introduced the prototypes for many great comic operas
that followed: the wily servant who easily outwits his or her simple-minded
The plot, though easily described, unfolds with many hilarious twist and
turns: the maid Serpina runs the house as a servant but she wants to be mistress.
She is aided by Vespone, a fellow servant, as she tricks their master, Uberto,
into marriage. Soprano Sarah Schmidt as Serpina and baritone James Haas as
Uberto have the major singing roles. The role of Vespone will be performed
by UI theatre arts student Aaron Galbraith, who also has a part in "La
"Introductions and Goodbyes" will feature seven student performers
-- Edward Corpus, Michael Shelledy, Christine Hayes, Rachel Lebeck, Clark
Sturdevant, Jacqueline Lang and Chad Graham -- as well as two "mystery
Stunkel was appointed director of UI Opera Theater in the fall of 1999.
She has directed for many American opera companies, including Sacramento Opera,
Tulsa Opera, Opera Theater of
St. Louis, Skylight Opera, the Aspen Music Festival, Kentucky Opera and Four
Corners Opera. She has more than 70 productions to her credit, including straight
theater as well as opera. She headed the opera programs at the former St.
Louis Conservatory of Music, the University of Tennessee and the University
of the Pacific in California.
Stunkel has performed both as an opera singer, performing with the Colorado
Springs Opera, Skylight Opera and Baltimore Opera, and as an actor in spoken
plays. With more than 15 years of dance training, she has also choreographed
several productions. Known for her expertise in teaching acting to opera singers,
Stunkel has taught in the apprentice programs at the Des Moines Metro Opera,
Chautauqua Opera, the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada, and the Aspen Music
Rhoads earned her degree in accompanying and has completed post-graduate
studies in opera coaching/conducting at the University of Southern California.
Before arriving at the UI she taught music history in Lucerne and Lausanne
in Switzerland. She has also been Kapellmeister at the Lucerne Theater and
conductor/coach at the opera theater in Darmstadt, Germany. She was coach
at the Barcelona and Madrid opera theaters.
Her accompanying credentials include recitals with Jose Carreras, Luis Lima
and Montserrat Caballe with whom she worked exclusively as coach/accompanist
and orchestrator. She has accompanied master classes with a number of renowned
artists and served as staff accompanist for the Francesco Vinas (Barcelona,
Spain) and Munich International competitions.
Tickets for the Opera Theater performances Dec. 7-9 will be $11, $7 for
UI students, seniors and youth 18 and under. They will be available from the
Hancher Auditorium box office. Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319)
335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284.
Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students
may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff
may select the option of payroll deduction.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should
dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel
prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and
seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with
TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.
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