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USD Opera returns with medieval performance

The USD Opera will be returning to the main stage after two years to present a serious, yet comedic, opera titled “Alcina.” 

Directed by professor of music Tracelyn Gesteland and conducted by Luis Viquez, “Alcina” by George Frideric Handel is set in the late medieval times where an evil sorceress puts a knight under her spell and keeps him captive on her island while the knight’s fiancé must find a way to rescue him.  

The opera has a balance of both serious and comedic elements. When the opera first opened, it came from a time when opera was shifting from very serious to becoming more comedic. 

“I was envisioning a ‘Game of Thrones’ look and feel with the time period, costumes, wigs and magical elements,” Gesteland said.  

Gesteland plays multiple roles in the production as director, stage director, producer and co-music director. 

“I spent the first half of the semester coaching the singers on their music, and then just before spring break, we began our staging rehearsals,”  Gesteland said  

The original opera was written and performed in Italian, but the USD Opera will be performing it in English.  

Auditions for the opera took place in December and rehearsals began in January. The opera meets every day for an hour as a class and then adds the orchestra and tech rehearsals towards the end of the rehearsal period. The cast includes 20 singers and 15 orchestra players. 

“I chose this opera to highlight the singers that we have currently in the program,” Gesteland said. “Each person is perfect for their role vocally, physically and dramatically.” 

Last year the opera performed pop-up concerts around campus, including outdoors behind Slagle Hall. 

“We hope that students and community members will come to the performance,” Gesteland said. 

“Alcina” will be shown Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 1 at 3 p.m. in Aalfs Auditorium. Tickets are available in advance on the USD website and will also be sold one hour before the curtains open.