Harmony of emotions: Rowan Opera Company’s ‘Romance Beauty Tragedy Comedy’ captivates audiences

"The students performed short scenes in a cabaret style from famous operas such as Rigoletto, Susannah, and The Barber of Seville." - Photo via Prof's Link.

On Nov. 17th and 18th in the Pfleeger Concert Hall, the Rowan Opera Company put on “Romance Beauty Tragedy Comedy.” Under the direction of Marian Striber, the student cast performed works by famous composers George Frideric Handel, Gioachino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, and others.

The students performed short scenes in a cabaret style from famous operas such as Rigoletto, Susannah, and The Barber of Seville. Each of the scenes portrayed in this opera are scenes that express the themes of the titles of the show. For example, the scene done from Rigoletto can be represented by the “tragedy” theme of the show. 

The cast worked extremely hard and long to make the performances the best they could be, and Joseph Negron, a junior music education major, truly enjoyed his time portraying two different characters.

“My first scene was a scene from the opera Rigoletto, in which I was Count Monterone,” Negron said. “And I was also in the last two scenes as Doctor Bartolo from The Barber of Seville opera.” 

The start of the show was from Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi. The scene portrayed was where Rigoletto’s daughter, Gilda, reveals the truth about her being kidnapped by a man, and then capturing the person who did it. This scene, as dark as it was, invested audiences in the story. 

Following that was the Lakme Flower Duet, from Lakme by Léo Delibes. This duet is a tune that is more commonly known in the opera world. The character Lakme and her maid Mallika go down to the riverbed to pick flowers, talking about how lovely they are, and preparing for a bath in the river. This duet was absolutely beautiful and left tears in the audience’s eyes. 

Going from the beauty of the river, the audience experienced the world and opera of Julius Caesar by George Frideric Handel. This scene was the point where Julius Caesar merged kingdoms with Cleopatra. Julius and Cleopatra complement each other saying how lovely they both are as they sign to merge kingdoms. 

As the audience moved over to American opera, audiences enjoyed a piece from Candide by Leonard Bernstein. This scene revolves around the theme of comedy where the two characters continuously confess their love and plan for their future. Although both have opposite views on what they want in their future, they both love each other and make the audience laugh continuously.

The audience moved to the opera of Susannah by Carlisle Floyd. Susannah and her friend Little Bat talk about what life would be like if Susannah left her home and traveled beyond the mountains. This scene was breathtaking, the background was full of twinkling stars that Susannah and Little Bat were looking at. 

The final two scenes were from The Barber of Seville by Cesare Sterbini. The first scene had Count Bartolo and his friend Don Basilio come up with a plan to slander Almaviva and get rid of her once and for all. The audience was engaged with the story and continued to laugh at some of the small jokes and movements made by the actors. 

The finale also came from the Barber of Seville, where an argument breaks out in a small house with a wide ensemble of characters, from Figaro to Count Bartolo. The civil guard arrives to arrest Almavia, but after revealing his true identity, he is set free. Figaro could not stop laughing at the events unfolding and the rest of the characters were wondering what was happening. The audience was glued to the stage with awe at the amazing choreography and a great finale for the show. 

The opera’s turnout was very successful, with a wide range of students, faculty, and even family coming out for a wonderful night at the opera. Joseph also believes that more people should know about the program and should attend more performances.

“I don’t really think that we have to do too much, but just enough so that like, we pull in more than just family members and friends, Negron said. “And I get it. It’s like a personal performance type thing. But if we wanted to, we could pull in more.” 

The Rowan Opera Company is beginning preparations for their production of Yeomen of the Guard by Gilbert and Sullivan coming next semester in April.

For comments/questions about this story DM us on Instagram @thewhitatrowan or email the.whit.arts@gmail.com