“A Night at the Opera” involves Northwestern College’s Heritage Singers performing “Gianni Schicchi” written by Giacomo Puccini.
Twenty-four NW students within the chamber choir, directed by theatere professor April Hubbard, are performing this hour-long opera in the England Proscenium Theatre of the DeWitt Arts Center Jan. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m.
The opera is a comedy about a family gathering to mourn the death of Buoso Donati, an uncle, cousin and brother. The family faces a major issue when reading the will of Buoso Donati — he has left all of his money to the monastery. This discovery led Rinuccio, Buoso’s nephew, to seek the help of his beloved’s father, Gianni Schicchi. However, things do not exactly go their way, and they end up much more distressed than they were before they tried to change Buoso’s will.
“Students should not only come watch this to support their fellow students, but they should also come see the opera because it is actually quite funny,” Hannah Johnson, who is a part of the Heritage Choir, said. “Also, if anyone is worried about not understanding the words, this opera is in English and we also have a screen with subtitles.”
This is not the first time NW has performed this opera either.
“I believe we’re performing it again because Dr. Holm really liked it the first time it was presented,” Johnson said.
“Gianni Schicchi” is also not a typical concert NW is known for performing.
“The opera is both singing and acting, using our full bodies to play off each other’s energy and telling a story through the music and acting,” said Ashlynn Anderson, who is also participating in the opera. “While, for a normal concert, we stand on the risers and use expressions with our faces while we sing.”
“Typically, when directed, you follow the director and how he or she wants a piece to be performed,” Johnson added. “While there are aspects that reflect that in this opera, those of us on stage also get a lot of room to play with our characters and sing in ways that support the storyline. It’s fun to mix things up.”
However, the mix of singing and acting within “Gianni Schicchi” has brought some challenges to the performers as well as favorite features.
“The hardest part of the opera has been combining all that we learned in the choir room in the Proscenium and joining it with acting and blocking,” Johnson said. “We still need to be precise in our sound and look good, too.”
“What I like most about the opera is being able to tell a story as someone else. When I sing for a concert, I express the piece as myself, but the opera is entirely different,” Anderson said. “I also enjoy the interaction with my peers because we’re moving around and working together in a different way.”
“I encourage all students to come watch and enjoy what we have to offer,” Anderson said. “It is a great experience for everyone.”
Admission to this event is free, but tickets are still required. Concerts are on Jan. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. To order tickets, contact the music office at 712-707-7062.