<em>Wading Home</em> opera marks an SMU Meadows-guided community collaboration between Dallas and New Orleans

Hank Hammett

Wading Home opera marks an SMU Meadows-guided community collaboration between Dallas and New Orleans

'Wading Home' photoTo observe the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, SMU is participating in a community collaboration that commemorates the event in music. Wading Home, an opera set against the backdrop of the historic storm, opens for a one-night-only free performance at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015 in Dallas City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora Street. The show was performed in New Orleans on Sept. 12-13 at Loyola University’s Roussel Hall.

The story of a young musician’s struggle to find his missing father in the chaotic aftermath of the hurricane, Wading Home is based on the novel of the same name by Dallas author and violinist Rosalyn Story. The opera, composed by Dallas musician Mary Alice Rich, is produced in collaboration with several Meadows School of the Arts faculty members and students, as well as community members from Dallas and New Orleans.

The opera is a dream project for Meadows Professor of Voice Barbara Hill Moore, who is serving as producer and music director. The stage director is Meadows Director of Opera Hank Hammett, and the conductor is Constantina Tsolainou, former head of choral activities at the Meadows School.

“I am intensely proud of the amazing gifts of time, talent, and love of the human family and spirit, shared without compensation by SMU faculty, staff, students and alumni in this collaborative project with Loyola University and the people of New Orleans,” says Hill Moore. “The three performances of Wading Home are a community collaboration shared by Texans, Louisianans, New Yorkers, South Africans and a host of people from around the globe with the people of New Orleans and of Dallas.”

Baritone and Meadows alumnus Donnie Ray Albert (M.M. ’75) sings the role of the lost father, Simon. Other leading roles in the Dallas performance include established opera singers and Meadows alumni Leon Turner (M.M. ’92) as Julian, Simon’s musician son, and Bronwen Forbay (Artist Diploma ’04) as Velmyra, Julian’s former love who helps him reconnect with his Louisiana roots and his lost father. Also sharing the stage is Quintin Coleman (M.M. ’15, Performer’s Diploma ’17) as Julian’s trumpeter friend Grady, with whom Julian has lost touch during the years he has been performing around the globe as a famous jazz musician. Dance alumnus Jamal Story (B.F.A. Dance Performance and B.A. Corporate Communications ’99) will also perform.

The SMU Meadows new music ensemble SYZYGY, led by Meadows Director of Chamber Music and three-time Grammy winner Matt Albert, will play live. Also onstage for the Dallas performance will be the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas.

The performances have been produced with support from the Dallas-based organization The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL), with funding from the Meadows School of the Arts and the Bruce R. Foote Memorial Scholarship Foundation.

> Read the full story from the SMU Meadows homepage

September 15, 2015|Calendar Highlights, For the Record, News|

Meadows Opera Theatre presents Susannah, Feb. 5-8, 2015

Susannah 6852The award-winning Meadows Opera Theatre opens the 2015 opera season with Susannah, running Thursday, Feb. 5 through Sunday, Feb. 8, in the Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center. 

Written by Carlisle Floyd in 1955, Susannah is based loosely on the Apocryphal tale of Susannah and the Elders. Set in rural Tennessee where the fate of the young town beauty hangs, Susannah explores the plague of religious fundamentalism, intolerance, hypocrisy and prejudice. Weaving together folk tunes, country hymns and haunting melodiesSusannah 3105, Floyd’s American masterpiece tells the timeless tale of desire, lust, seduction and revenge.

The Meadows production is directed by Hank Hammett. American lyric baritone Hammett is an award-winning performer, director, teacher and coach. As an acting coach for singers, Hammett has worked for Broadway and Off-Broadway, in television and film, and the world’s most prestigious opera houses, ranging from The Metropolitan Opera to the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Currently, Hammett serves as Director of Opera, Senior Lecturer and Chair of Ensemble Department in Meadows School of the Arts. 

Under the baton of Maestro Paul Phillips, this main stage production is accompanied by the Meadows Symphony Orchestra. Phillips has served since 1996 as music director and conductor of the Meadows School of the Arts. A native of Dallas, Phillips completed his undergraduate studies at SMU where he studied with James Rives Jones.

Tickets for faculty, staff and students are $7 and can be purchased online. For more information, call 214-768-2787. A full cast list can be found below.

Susannah 

Libretto and Music by Carlisle Floyd

Feb. 5-8

Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center, SMU

CrewSusannah 6999

  • Producer/Director – Hank Hammett
  • Conductor – Paul Phillips
  • Choreographer – Danny Buraczeski
  • Scenic Designer – Sarah B. Brown (MFA ’15)
  • Costume Designer – Amanda Capshaw (MFA ’15)
  • Lighting Designer – Luther Frank (MFA ’15)
  • Vocal Coach/Répétiteur – Jason Smith
  • Supertitles – Opera Supertitles
  • Stage Manner – Suzanne Lavender

Cast 

(in order of vocal appearance)

  • Fiddler – Jiah Kyun
  • Mrs. Gleaton – Julie Martinez* and Dallas Caulkins**
  • Mrs. Ott – Laura Gastinel* and JinYong Kwon**
  • Mrs. Hayes – Courtney Stancil* and Kristen Meyers**
  • Mrs. McLean – Moretta Irchirl* and Arielle Collier**
  • Elder McLean – Frank RosamondSusannah 6984
  • Olin Blitch, an evangelist – Raul Escalona* and Langelihle Mngxati**
  • Elder Hayes – Benjamin Roberts
  • Elder Ott – James Resch
  • Elder Gleaton – Quintin Coleman
  • Susannah Polk – Alissa Roca* and Audra Methvin**
  • Little Bat McLean – Jordan Hammons
  • Sam Polk – Jeawood Lee* and Myles Pinder**
  • First Man – Dennis Wees
  • Second Man – Charles Karanja
  • Townsfolk of New Hope Valley – Jordan Beranek, Regina Joi Branford, Laura Bumgarner, Dallas Caulkins, Arielle Collier, Shannon Conboy, Gabrielle Ferrari, Laura Gastinel, Maggie Harper, Moretta Irchirl, Jenilee Joan, Maya Jones, Charles Karanja, JinYoung Kwon, Vinnie Mahal, Julie Martinez, Kristen Meyers, Brandon Moore, Lauren Pinzás, Kelly Silverthorn, Courtney Stancil, Christian Thrailkill, Kiara Wade, Dennis Wees, Alison Wheaton

* Thursday and Saturday

** Friday and Sunday

All photograph in this article were taken by Kim Leeson. 

February 5, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News|

Meadows Opera Theatre performs Albert Herring Feb. 7-10, 2013

It is time for the annual May Day Festival, but what happens when none of the girls are pure enough to be May Queen?

In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten, the Meadows Opera Theatre and Meadows Symphony Orchestra will perform Britten’s comic opera Albert Herring. The production runs Feb. 7-10, 2013 in the Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

Albert Herring is set in 1947, just two years after the end of World War II, in a time when youth were trying to pull away from traditions and live life in their own terms. This theme is explored through the title character, who is named May King after being lauded as the only virgin in town. Albert is embarrassed by his new title and seeks adventure and independence from his mother after unknowingly drinking rum-spiked lemonade at the May Day Festival. The opera is a story of triumph and having the right to be who we really are regardless of what others think and accept.

The opera was first performed in 1947, with a libretto by Eric Crozier. Meadows Opera Theatre Director Hank Hammett had the privilege of studying with Crozier in his younger years, and they became good friends. “Eric and Nancy (Eric’s wife) fell in love during the writing of the opera,” Hammett says, “and that love is very much reflected in the music that Britten wrote for Nancy’s character. Nancy is one of the individuals who spikes the lemonade.”

Meadows student Julie Dieltz, playing Lady Billows, says, “Performing in an opera is one of the most exciting and terrifying experiences I’ve had. One must rely on specific personal experiences in order to develop a character. Through research into one’s life, the life of the character, and into history, the character comes alive.”

A unique element of Meadows Opera Theatre productions is that they are each fully designed by third-year M.F.A. students from the Division of Theatre. All sets, costumes and lighting are specially created by Meadows production, something that sets Meadows apart from other universities.

“This year’s production has surpassed them all. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by this kind of collaborative, interdisciplinary talent,” Hammett says.

First-time opera performer Daniel Bouchard, playing Mr. Gedge, also noted the collaborative nature of Meadows. “The true beauty of opera is that it is a collaborative art, bringing extremely talented musicians together on stage and in the pit to tell a story. Cooperation between these talented artists can be difficult sometimes, but we have worked so hard together that this interaction is almost second nature now.”

The Meadows Symphony Orchestra will be in the pit under the direction of Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Activities Paul Phillips. The opera will be sung in English, with projected English text above the stage as well.

Tickets are $7 for SMU faculty, staff and students. The show begins at 8 p.m. Feb. 7-9 and 2 p.m. Feb. 10. For more information, contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

(All images by Brian Hwu c/o Meadows School of the Arts)

Find a complete cast list below the cut.

(more…)

February 6, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News|

TEDxSMU heads to the Hilltop for first SMU-only event

TEDxSMU logoTEDxSMU Hilltop is coming to the University’s Bob Hope Theatre on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 – a free, SMU-only mashup of performance, technology and great talks that will spotlight “Ideas Worth Spreading” here on campus. The Lyle School of Engineering and Meadows School of the Arts will join to present high-energy talks and performances that tap the talents of the SMU community.

The half-day conference will run from 1-5 p.m., punctuated by a half-hour conversation break in the middle of the afternoon. By limiting the audience to the SMU community and staging the event in a campus theater, TEDxSMU is bringing home the kind of event that started with the first TEDxSMU conference in 2009.

TEDxSMU Hilltop is open to everyone on the SMU campus – students, faculty and staff – but it’s first-come, first served. Register here and bring your SMU ID to the event.

The program’s theme is re:THINK and will feature presentations from four students, four faculty members, four staff members and four SMU alumni. While the program is nearly booked, the TEDxSMU tradition incorporates the opportunity to participate from the stage. Nominate yourself or suggest a speaker here.

Confirmed presenters so far include:

Jonathon WentzJonathan Wentz, the SMU student equestrian who may still be shaking off jet lag after representing the United States in London at the 2012 Paralympics in a competition he describes as “horse ballet.”

Hank HammettHank Hammett, the Meadows Opera Theatre director who will explain the need to make opera more relevant to today’s audiences, based on the unique “Opera in a Box” program he has created at the University.

Brandon LazarusBrandon Lazarus, a graduate student in the Perkins School of Theology who thinks networking ought to be about bettering the community instead of ourselves.

 

TEDxSMU premiered on the SMU campus in 2009 at Caruth Auditorium, one of the first university events licensed as an independently organized “TEDx” event by the nonprofit organization that hosts the TED conference annually in Long Beach.

Kimberly Cobb

> Register for TEDxSMU Hilltop 2012 at Eventbrite
> Read more from SMU News
> Suggest a speaker (or nominate yourself)
Watch some of the thousands of TED talks available online

August 28, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

Meadows Opera Theatre opens 2012 with The Marriage of Figaro

John Hendricks as Figaro and Julie Marx as Susanna in the 2012 Meadows Opera Theatre production of The Marriage of Figaro. Photo by Kim Ritzenthaler.

Cupid is at work and at play on Figaro and Susanna’s wedding day – but who is wooing whom?

Just in time for Valentine’s Day month, Meadows Opera Theatre and the Meadows Symphony Orchestra bring to life a cornerstone of the operatic repertoire, The Marriage of Figaro. The production runs Feb. 2-5, 2012, in the Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

The Marriage of Figaro – with or without its alternate title that translates as The Day of Madness – has charmed audiences since the debut of Pierre Beaumarchais’ original play in 1784. The working-class hero and heroine want only to celebrate their wedding in peace, but the competing agendas of friends, family members and even their aristocratic employers complicate the proceedings.

Count Almaviva, their master, has eyes for the bride, and a mysterious older woman lays claim to the groom. Countess Almaviva wants to win back her husband’s love, while the hormonal teenage page Cherubino wants to win the heart of every female he meets.

The play was banned in Vienna for a time because of its satire of the aristocracy, yet the 1786 opera became one of Mozart’s most successful works during his lifetime. (The composer himself directed its first two performances from the keyboard of his fortepiano.) It was the first of three collaborations with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, with whom he also wrote Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte.

Njabulo Mthimkhulu as Count Almaviva, Julie Marx as Susanna and Paul Kroeger as Don Basilio in the 2012 Meadows Opera Theatre production of The Marriage of Figaro. Photo by Kim Ritzenthaler.

Mozart’s celebrated score will be performed by the Meadows Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Activities Paul Phillips. Meadows Opera Theatre Director Hank Hammett directs the production, with choreography by Professor of Dance Danny Buraczeski.

The opera will be sung in Italian with projected English translation. Tickets are $7 each for SMU faculty, staff and students. Buy tickets for The Marriage of Figaro online at Vendini or contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Find a complete cast list under the link below. (more…)

February 1, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News|
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