USD Opera program to perform children’s fantasy opera
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USD Opera program to perform children’s fantasy opera

USD’s Opera program is doubling down on whimsy, fun and raspberry tarts for their new fantasy opera, “Many Moons.

USD music students will perform “Many Moons” on Nov. 23 and 24. “Many Moons” is the story of a young princess who gets sick from eating too many raspberry tarts.  She insists that she is very ill, but she will feel better if she can have the moon. With help from the King, Royal Chamberlain, Royal Wizard, Royal mathematician and the Jester, they figure out how to get the princess well again.

Nicholas Provenzale, assistant professor of voice and opera, directs the opera said he enjoys the composer’s use of fantastical terminology to define the musical as a fantasy opera.

“I believe the composer of this opera, Celius Dougherty, chose the term ‘fantasy opera’ because there is this fictional story is full of imagination,” Provenzale said. 

As Many Moons is based on a children’s book by James Thurber, Provenzale said it is amusing and easy to follow for children and families.

“I believe the whole family will enjoy the humor and the charming music,” Provenzale said. 

The opera program began preparing for the production in early September and the cast was chosen the first week of the semester. The auditions for the students were open to all students, but all the cast members are music majors ranging from first-year to graduate students. 

Though it is a children’s opera, Provenzale said creating the performance and preparing for it was no easy task.

“We began with musical rehearsals, followed by staging rehearsals.  The music is more modern and complex than many children’s operas and we spent almost two months preparing the music,” Provenzale said. 

James Miller, a sophomore performer is playing The King in “Many Moons” and attests to the opera’s challenging nature.

“It helps that the music is in English, but the music still challenges us,” Miller said. 

Another member of the cast, Micheala Rabideau, a graduate student, plays the ten-year-old Princess Lenore and said she enjoys the challenge of stepping into a child’s perspective.

“I am 23 and have to play a ten-year-old who moves a lot and is always doing something on stage. It is a big contrast from an adult opera character,” Rabideau said. 

While preparing for the performances the cast also performed “Many Moons” for children in schools. Each fall, the opera program does an outreach tour where they perform in cities around Vermillion including Sioux Falls, Centerville and Sioux City.

“I thought a production of “Many Moons” would be the perfect way to bring opera to communities that may not otherwise have the opportunity,” Provenzale said. “This year, we have performed for hundreds of students of all ages during our tour.” 

Provenzale said he believes opportunities like children’s opera are a great way for USD students to hone their performing skills and share a new type of opera.

“This is experience is actually quite similar to what a young professional in the field of opera will encounter. Many opera companies hire young artists at the early stages of their careers to perform in children’s operas, or other outreach performances,” Provenzale said. 

“Many Moons” performs in Colton Recital Hall on Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. Tickets are sold at the door for $15 for general admission and free for children 12 and under.