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Monday, Oct. 2
The Indiana Daily Student


'Bride' a lighthearted fare for opera-goers

IU Opera Theatre produces parts of the opera repertoire that one may never see again in a lifetime of opera viewing. Giving life to works rarely seen in the commercial world and showcasing new productions is a facet of IU's highly-acclaimed Opera.\nAt 8 p.m. Friday at the Musical Arts Center, "The Bartered Bride" by Bedrich Smetana will open for four performances, continuing Saturday and closing March 1 and 2 at 8 p.m.\nThe opera first opened in Prague in 1866, but it did not become the opera that it is today until 1870, when it became the first Czech opera to receive international attention. It then began to receive worldwide esteem in 1892, when it was performed at the Vienna Music and Theatre Exhibition.\nIn recent decades, it has begun to fade again and has not received major productions in the U.S. But those who are on the creative team for this production believe it still deserves the same recognition it had when it was first lauded by the Czech people in the 19th century.\nThe opera, which is based on a folk story and contains many invented folk melodies and dances, concerns the marriage of Marenka, a young peasant woman, and Vasek, the son of a rich man. The dowry will pay off her family's debt, but Marenka does not love the Vasek; she loves Jenik, a poor man whom her parents dislike.\n"What's fun about this is that this piece tends to run into a lot of different styles -- there's a little bit more 'Broadway' to it," guest stage director Jay Lesenger said.\nLesenger received a master's degree in opera direction from IU and has since directed many productions across the United States, including the New York City Opera.\n"(This production) is very light; it's operetta like," he said. "It's full of melody that sounds Czech -- there's a lot of these peasant dances and things. It's great for young singers to work on because it does make them work on style. It makes them work on an acting style that they may not work on necessarily in other ways."\nWorking with this style of opera was a welcome change for cast member Jeremy Hunt, who just began his doctoral degree in voice after completing a masters degree in voice at IU.\n"It's fun to do something kind of different," said Hunt, who will play Marenka's father, Krusina. "It is still classically based, (but) it's almost like musical theater for the entertainment value of it. It's a chance to branch out and do something that is not as serious as opera typically is."\nEven with all of the training that IU voice students receive, the work is still tough -- especially on a lighter piece such as "The Bartered Bride."\n"The difficulties are letting go and just having fun," Hunt said. "I started (in) musical theater, and I gradually moved to opera; now it's a different direction.\n"For me, (this is) a smaller role…so it's more of an acting role. It's a chance to expand my horizons as a singing actor without having to worry about difficult vocal riding, which tends to inhibit a performer."\nProfessor David Effron, who will conduct the symphony orchestra for the production, said he believes it is something that all audiences will enjoy because of its rarity and light-hearted nature.\n"It's a very tuneful, audience-friendly, funny opera," he said. "Lots of ballet, lots of chorus and lots of melodies that you can go out of the opera house whistling. If you want a fun time in the theater for two hours, then you should come, because you'll feel much happier when you leave than when you came in"

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