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U of M Opera Tears Down Walls University News
For release: November 12, 2009

For press information, contact Carol Morse, 901-678-2279

OperaIn a production that explores the concept of captivity, the University of Memphis Opera at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music will present a single act from each of three operas December 4 and 6.

The three operas are widely diverse: Act I of Gioacchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Act II of Jules Massenet’s Manon and Act I of Robert Ward’s The Crucible. Not surprisingly, finding a common theme to tie them into a cohesive production was difficult. According to stage director Copeland Woodruff, “The common thread is that the four heroines are all held captive – either by their own machinations or by other people.”  A single changeable set creates continuity as the performance progresses. “It’s a closed box that is gradually torn apart so the audience can see inside from different angles, just as they see aspects of each character from different points of view,” he says.

The company elected to stage the three acts instead of a single, full opera for several reasons. The concept allows audiences to experience a broad range of opera styles in a single performance. Also, the School of Music had a number of singers capable of performing leading roles this year, and the concept created more of those opportunities. One of those students, Trisha Phillips Huntley, has roles in two of the featured operas and enjoys the challenge of portraying two characters in one performance. “In The Crucible I sing the role of Abigail Williams, the leader of the girls accusing people of witchcraft,” she says. “There is nothing ambiguous about Abigail’s character, but as Manon, I portray a very complex woman whose personality has many subtle layers.” 

Performances will be Friday, December 4, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 6, at 3 p.m. in Harris Concert Hall, 3775 Central Ave. on the University of Memphis campus. Tickets are $10 for general admission; $7 for non-U of M students and seniors; and free to U of M students, faculty and staff with ID. To purchase or reserve tickets, please call 901-678-1651 or 901-678.--5400.

The Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis offers bachelor’s through doctoral degrees in 29 areas of concentration. The School has the distinction of being Tennessee’s only doctoral degree-granting program in music.

We are dedicated to preparing students for careers in music by instilling in them the importance of thorough and thoughtful preparation in all musical endeavors and by engaging them in a comprehensive learning experience. We punctuate study with a wide variety of performance opportunities within the School, the community and internationally. This total immersion approach is realized by faculty members who have active careers in performance, recording and publishing – experience that fosters truth and integrity in music.

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