OC's Music Department ends year with two One-Act Operas

The musical theater season at Oklahoma Christian University ends April 18 with two comic “one act” operas including an all-student cast and the University Chorale. The music department will present Offenbach’s “Ladies of the Market” and John Duke’s “Captain Lovelock” at 7:30 p.m. in Hardeman Auditorium.

The Music Department chose to produce two short operas to allow more students to be included.

“I had a number of students this year that, had I done one opera with one cast, I wouldn’t have had enough roles for them,” professor of music Ken Adams said. “By doing two shorter operas, then you have two separate casts and more opportunities.”

To encourage different musical experiences the music department attempts to provide different types of onstage opportunities.

“The opera places different demands on singers,” Adams said. “The singers, in their private lessons, study both musical theater style and a more classical opera style. Since we do both of those kinds of productions, it gives them an opportunity to use their training in their private singing lessons on stage.”

Both comedies play on the quirks of human nature and feature plot twists with spurned lovers and women cleverly disguised as young soldiers. In the first opera, “Ladies of the Market,” love is in the air.” In the story, a drum major seeks out a wife in a marketplace. The University Chorale will be supporting this short opera in the marketplace, in chorus, as street vendors and townspeople.

“Moving that many people on stage with props and a set is a challenge, but they’re doing great,” Adams said.

The second opera, “Captain Lovelock,” is a tale of trickery reminiscent of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” The plot follows a woman, dressed as a man, who tries to make another woman fall in love with her to expose how foolish she is for wanting to be married.

The single night performance of both short operas is fully staged, costumed and accompanied by a professional orchestra.

Directing both “one act” operas is Vince Leseney, with Adams conducting the orchestra.

Leseney, who attended Oklahoma City University with Broadway star Kristen Chenoweth, has directed other productions at Oklahoma Christian in the past. He directed the spring opera, “The Vampire,” in 2008.

Many of the participants in the opera are either on scholarship with the music department or are music majors.

In previous years, opera professionals from the community joined the student cast to fill certain roles. This year the cast is entirely made up of Oklahoma Christian students.

Both casts are filled with stage veterans such as sophomore Ryan Gonzales, who was a lead in the fall musical production of “She Loves Me,” and senior Sarah Duvall, who appeared in the past two opera productions. Duvall is appearing as Ciboulette, an 18-year-old orphan, in “Ladies of the Market.”

“The operas are a great learning experience and opportunity to work with great performers and directors,” Duvall said. “Plus, who doesn’t enjoy pretending to be someone else for a while? 

For Duvall, participating in the opera expanded her musical interests.

“I never saw myself as an opera singer, but after participating in the opera my freshman year, I loved it,” Duvall said. “I enjoy singing other genres as well, but they are not as natural for me as opera.”

This story was adapted from an article by Allison Carrick in Oklahoma Christian’s student newspaper, The Talon.