Micro-operas highlight student talent

Four new micro-operas, written by BGSU composition students, will be performed this weekend in two performances at Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center.

The shows, which are free and open to the public, are scheduled at 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

The four operas each tell a very different story. “Respectable Women,” written by Kristi Fullerton, is the story of an unhappily married couple whose lives are forever changed when the husband’s cousin visits. Master of music student Jennifer Creswell is the director and provides the libretto; Evan Mecarello, a master of music in performance-conducting, is the conductor.

“Sensations,” written by Robert Hosier, shares the delusional journey of a plane crash survivor whose goal is to make it to a deserted temple only to find, when he arrives, something missing from his experience. Music performance studies faculty Ellen Scholl is the director, and Maria Mercedes Diaz-Garcia, a doctoral student of contemporary music in conducting, is the conductor.

“Black Earth,” written by Jacob Sandridge, is set in a small mining town in West Virginia in the 1950s, and represents the struggles of many miners whose lives have been spent performing dangerous work while being tied to coal mining towns. Directing the opera is voice faculty member Jeanne Bruggeman-Kurp, and Robert Ragoonanan, a graduate student in performance-conducting, is the conductor.

“The Lighthouse,” written by Dalen Wuest, takes place in a psychiatric hospital ward where several patients interact with one another with the help of a Scrabble board. Hillary LaBonte, a doctoral student in contemporary music-voice, will direct, and Santiago Serrano, a graduate student in performance-conducting, will conduct the opera.

The Micro-Opera Project began in the College of Musical Arts several years ago when student composers and performers discovered their mutual interest in composing and presenting new works. Dr. Jane Schoonmaker Rodgers, who served as faculty mentor to doctoral sopranos Amanda DeBoer Bartlett and Elizabeth Pearse, helped guide these students in the production of new works for the genre. Building upon this success, the BGSU Opera Theater formalized the project and launched three new works in November 2014.

This year’s works were solicited via a Call for Proposals to any full-time BGSU composition major last spring. The operas were to be between five and 20 minutes, include one to five singers and use small instrumentation. The students were selected at the end of last spring semester and given until September to complete their works. Voice faculty helped cast the performers, who have been practicing since November.