DePauw Opera to Present Works by Ravel & Menotti, February 10-13
January 29, 2011
January 29, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — The 2011 DePauw Opera presentation will feature two favorites -- The Old Maid and the Thief by Gian Carlo Menotti, and Maurice Ravel's L'enfant et les Sortilèges (The Child and the Magic Spells). Performances will take place at the Green Center for Performing Arts Thursday, February 10, through Sunday, February 13. Evening shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and the closing performance will be a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Both fully-staged operas will be performed in English, and feature two different casts for each show.
The DePauw Opera Orchestra will accompany the productions under music director Orcenith Smith.
The Old Maid and the Thief premiered on NBC Radio April 22, 1939. This one-act opera divided into 14 scenes is a twisted tale of morals and evil womanly power. Menotti writes in the libretto, "The devil couldn't do what a woman can -- make a thief out of an honest man." His inspiration to write the story came after a visit to the quaint town where the family of his partner, Samuel Barber, resided.
The opera is performed in English, and its storyline and humor has wide appeal to modern American audiences. Menotti was a lifelong lover of opera and had written two operas before entering an Italian conservatory at the age of 13. After moving to America, he studied at the Curtis Institute of Music. Menotti wrote not only the music, but also the libretti to all his operas. The Old Maid and the Thief was the first opera that he wrote in English.
L'enfant et les Sortilèges (The Child and the Magic Spells) was composed by Maurice Ravel, and the libretto was written by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. The poet, Colette, chose Ravel to set her fantasy poem to music. It took seven years and considerable pressure to get him to complete the project. This might lead you to think that Ravel was not interested in the work. One look at the score, however, shows immediately the care and attention he paid to every aspect of the story and score. He describes each scene in such detail that you can almost "see" the opera unfolding as you read it.
This one-act opera in two parts is subtitled "Fantaisie lyrique en deux parties" (A lyric fantasy in 2 parts), and is set in a country home in an old fashioned Normandy town. The first part takes place in the room of a naughty child being reprimanded by his mother for his behavior, who begins to throw a tantrum and destroy the room and its contents. The boy is surprised as the injured objects and furnishings come to life and voice their complaints. The second part takes place in the garden; the trees, animals and insects that have also suffered at the child's hands also gain voices to scold him. When the chastened child helps an injured squirrel, the animals forgive him and sing his praises as he reaches for his 'mama' in the last measures of the score.
Depauw Opera is a highly anticipated event each year, showcasing wide collaboration between faculty, staff, and students from many different majors. Under the direction of Keith Tonne, associate professor of music at DePauw, students enroll in DePauw Opera 2011 for Winter Term, and work both on- and off-stage in preparation for the production. Their experience with this course makes opera more approachable and enjoyable, and exposes them to a genre they might not have had if they weren't a student at DePauw University.
DePauw Opera's presentation of The Old Maid and the Thief and Ravel's L'enfant et les Sortilèges (The Child and the Magic Spells) is generously underwritten by Elaine Showalter Smith '36. Mrs. Smith was also one of the benefactors of the concert organ in Kresge Auditorium, in honor of her late husband, J. Stanford Smith '36. A graduate of the DePauw University School of Music, Mrs. Smith majored in piano and minored in organ and mathematics.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for students, and may be purchased at the Green Center Box Office, or reserved by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is also available by calling (765) 658-4827.