By Laura Yates
Ohio University's School of Music is challenging Southeast Ohio's perceptions of opera.
The school's Opera Theater ensemble will perform "Comedy Tonight," which comprises three one-act operas, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.
"For a lot of students, opera implies a bunch of fat people screaming out something incomprehensible. That isn't what we're doing. With Opera Theater, we try to combine the values of a Broadway play with top-notch singing," said Richard Crist, director of the Opera Theater. "This is a fun show, it's all about comedy. And, it's all in English."
The opera will feature "Telephone" by Menotti, "A Hand of Bridge" by Samuel Barber and "Comedy on the Bridge" by Martineu.
"Telephone" is a 20-minute piece about a college student who is so obsessed with her telephone that she is unaware her gentleman friend is proposing to her until, after several frustrating attempts, he finally pops the question over the phone.
The second opera, "A Hand of Bridge," is a brief satirical comedy. It involves two couples, an older stock broker and his wife and a younger lawyer and his wife, engaged in a game of cards. The actors freeze and take turns in sharing their true thoughts with the audience throughout the game.
The final opera, "Comedy on the Bridge," runs 40 minutes and carries a heavy message -- the futility of war. It revolves around five characters stuck on a bridge that connects their two warring countries. The performance marks just the third time the eastern European comedy has been performed in the United States and offers a unique opportunity for the audience to experience a Czech opera, Crist said.
The operas will be performed by the audition-only Opera Theater class and accompanied by Ohio University's Symphony Orchestra, directed by Steven Huang. Both groups have spent the past two quarters preparing for the event.
"All art forms have something to say besides just being entertainment," Crist said. "They stretch our knowledge and give us different ideas to think about. It really is a way of growing."
The event, supported by Arts for Ohio, is free for Ohio University students and $10 for others. Tickets can be purchased at Memorial Auditorium Ticket Office from noon to 5 p.m. and one hour prior to the event.