Introducing the life operatic
JACI WEBB Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Thursday,
July 21, 2005 11:00 pm
you're 10 years old, opera can seem like something
from another galaxy.
That's part of the
reason the Rimrock Opera Company recently hosted the
Red Lodge Boys and Girls Club at a rehearsal for
"Sister Angelica,” which will be presented as part
of the "One-Act Festival” next weekend at Venture
A dozen kids from the summer camp
sat in the front row during the 25-minute rehearsal,
with its jaw-dropping death scene by soprano Amy
"I liked it because I like dramatic
stuff,” said 10-year-old Holly Sorrells, from
ROC artistic director Douglas
Nagel said the piece is the only tragedy among the
four one-acts, which includes "The Old Maid and the
Thief,” "A Hand of Bridge,” and "The Impresario.”
Written by Giacomo Puccini, "Sister Angelica”
tells the tale of a teenage girl who has a child out
of wedlock and as punishment is forced by her
cold-hearted aunt to join a convent. The students
watched a scene where the aunt comes to visit Sister
Angelica in the convent seven years later.
"How's your English coming?” Nagel asked the two
It sounded like a joke to the young
audience but Nagel explained that English is the
hardest language to sing opera in because we often
slur our words or don't enunciate them. Nancy
Downing, a contralto who plays the mean-spirited
aunt in the opera, said the character is so
different from her own personality that it's a
challenge to play.
"I get in front of the
mirror a lot to practice my facial expressions,”
Logan said her role is
emotionally draining, requiring her to embrace the
sorrow of her situation.
"The hardest thing
is when we perform two shows in one day because I'll
have to die twice,” Logan said.
Nagel added that
death scenes take their toll on opera singers.
"It's hard to do death scenes in opera because
even though you're convulsing, you still have to
sing,” Nagel said.
Performing the one-acts in a
casual setting like Venture Theatre will help people
understand that going to the opera doesn't have to
be a formal occasion, Nagel said.
folks to come in their blue jeans and hear us sing,"
Maintaining Rimrock Opera's summer tradition, the
festival cast features popular Montana opera stars
in fully staged shows, all of which are sung in
are descriptions of the others:
Maid and the Thief," by Gian Carlo Menotti, is
set in the early 1950s. It tells the tale of the
persuasive powers of women. The spinster, Miss Todd,
takes in a strange man. Laetitia and her maid become
enamored of him. Together they steal everything of
Miss Todd's including her car, while Miss Pinkerton,
a spinster friend of Miss Todd's, is hot on their
trail. The cast includes Ann Oglesby, Sarah Hessler,
Karen Evanson, and Chris Johnson.
"A Hand of
Bridge," by Samuel Barber, tells the story of
four friends who gather for their evening game of
bridge. As the play progresses, each player begins
to express personal inner thoughts. Sally is
thinking about the new hat she would like to buy.
Her husband Bill wonders what his mistress Cymbeline
is doing and if Sally has discovered the affair.
Geraldine is perturbed by the lack of attention from
both her husband and Bill, her former lover, and is
worried about her ailing mother. The cast includes
Alyson Miller, Ann Oglesby, Cody Maki and Bret
"The Impresario" by Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart, demonstrates Mozart's music at the
height of its dramatic power. The competition
between two divas, the aging Madame Goldentrill, and
Mademoiselle Silverpeal, a youthful upstart, both
represented by a wealthy businessman, is the center
of the humorous drama which includes the Impresario,
a worn-out opera manager, who would rather be on his
peaceful farm. The cast includes Emily Burr, Laura
Loge, Douglas Nagel, Jake Jurovich, Kevin Schweigert
and Ann Oglesby.
Rimrock Opera presents 'Met to
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2005 11:00 pm
Rimrock Opera will perform "Met to Broadway, " a
selection of popular opera arias and Broadway show
tunes, June 12 at All About Pianos, located at 1116
Show time is 7 p.m. and tickets are
Vocal numbers include selections from "Don
Giovanni," "LaBoheme," "Die Fledermaus," "Porgy &
Bess," "Man of LaMancha," "Gigi" and "Phantom of the
Opera." Performers include sopranos Amy Logan and
Karen Evanson, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Meyer, tenor
Kevin Schweigert, Baritone Bret Weston,
bass-baritone and Director Doug Nagel and pianist
The "One Act Festival" will be
performed in Billings on July 29, July 30 and July
31. This is a new, small stage format for short,
one-act operas. Each performance will have four
operas all sung in English: Barber's "The Hand of
Bridge", Puccini's "Sister Angelica," Mozart's "The
Impresario" , and Menotti's "The Old Maid & The
Company pulls off 4 operas in
JACI WEBB Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Saturday,
July 30, 2005 11:00 pm
something curiously satisfying about dueling divas
on a hot summer night.
The Rimrock Opera
Company serves up the feisty divas - Emily Burr and
Laura Loge - in the local company's version of
Mozart's "The Impresario." The 35-minute piece is
among four being performed this weekend in ROC's
first-ever One-Act Festival. The final two
performances are today at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are
"I picked four one-act operas, and I
thought we'd do two one night and two the next. But
they were all so good, I decided to do them all
every night," ROC artistic director Douglas Nagel
told an opening night crowd Friday.
for a long evening - more than 3˝ hours - but after
seeing all four operas, it would be tough to pick
one to drop from the list. The smaller venue put
opera "in your face" as Nagel described it,
especially Friday night's show, which was sold out
with an audience of 300 packed into the largest
theater at Venture's Montana Avenue facility.
Venture owner Mace Archer mixed up a batch of cool
sangria for the over-21 crowd, part of the theater's
new alcoholic offerings.
traditionally has been performed in a formal setting
at the Alberta Bair Theater, but Nagel said he hoped
to prove that opera is not stuffy. First-time
operagoer Terri Cherry agreed.
thinking I'd be a little bit bored. I'm not bored at
all," Cherry said.
10-year-old Morgan Hofmann, said she discovered
opera is "exciting and funny."
"I liked 'The
Impresario' the best," said Hofmann, who came with
her grandmother Diane Slagsvold, who has seen
several operas and taken opera classes from Nagel.
Slagsvold, who plays bridge, said she enjoyed
the quirky 12-minute "A Hand of Bridge" because it
felt so authentic. Characters - Alyson Miller, Ann
Oglesby, Bret Weston and Cody Maki - freeze with
cards in hand while the other card players reveal
their innermost thoughts to the audience.
liked the fact that they were all sung in English,"
Slagsvold said. "It made it easier to follow."
The festival opened with "The Old Main and the
Thief," a clever one-hour opera by Gian Carlo
Menotti about two wily women and a wanderer with "a
great torso." At first, you feel sorry for the
spinsterly Miss Todd, played with wit and charm by
Ann Oglesby. She and her nosey neighbor, Miss
Pinkerton, played with just the right touch by Karen
Evanson, have nothing to talk about but the "awful
weather" and the men who ruined their lives three or
four decades ago. Enter Bob, the hapless drifter, so
handsome, yet so dangerous that Miss Todd's maid,
Letitia (Sarah Hessler), laments, "It's better to be
killed by a man than to live without one."
Bob is played with amazing authority by vocalist
Chris Johnson, who is in his early 20s and a
relative newcomer to ROC.
Pianist Sandi Rabas,
a mainstay in ROC shows, broadens her role in the
festival to include sound-effect engineer and
actress. At one point in "The Old Maid and the
Thief," Miss Todd scrambles over Rabas' piano bench,
trying to break into a liquor store, and in "The
Impresario," Rabas distractedly flosses her teeth
while the aging diva, Madame Goldentrill, stomps her
feet, impatiently waiting for her accompanist to
play. Including Rabas in the show adds to the
laid-back atmosphere at the festival, making it as
if the audience is part of the show.
Impresario" also fits the small, informal venue,
especially when Nagel stomps around the stage
Montana style in his silver-tipped cowboy boots as
the stage manager who dreams of a simpler life
raising livestock. Part of the fun of watching this
opera is catching all the little stuff that flies
by, including the "Agri News" newspaper that Nagel
buries his head in throughout the piece, and his
assistant Mr. Bluff's (Jake Jurovich) flamboyant
interpretations of the Impresario's crass comments.
Kevin Schweigert does a hilarious job coaching the
young diva Miss Silverpeal, making her awkward stage
presence even worse.
Clearly, the most
powerful performance of the evening, though,
belonged to Amy Logan as Sister Angelica in Giacomo
Puccini's moving tale of a mother separated from her
infant son. Logan, who heads the Rimrock Opera for
Kids group, does a graceful job portraying the stoic
and tormented nun, and her soprano voice was
achingly authentic. It's a nice balance to Nancy
Downing's convincingly dark portrayal of the
DAVID GRUBBS/Gazette Staff
From left Emily Burr, Kevin
Schweigert and Laura Loge DAVID GRUBBS/Gazette Staff
Rimrock Opera Company artistic director Douglas
Nagel, left, and pianist Sandi Rabas share a light
moment during rehearsal for the One-Act Opera
Festival. BOB ZELLAR/Gazette Staff Kristen Campbell,
12, Munro Ripp, 10, Kyle Campbell, 10, and Josh
Wilker, 13, from left, listen to an explaination of
the opera they are about to see at West Park Plaza
Friday. The group from Red Lodge got a sneak peak at
the festival. DAVID GRUBBS/Gazette Staff From left,
Nancy Downing and Amy Logan perform a scene from
Puccini뭩 'Sister Angelica.뮃
The opera tells the tale of a teenage girl who has a
child out of wedlock and as punishment is forced by
her cold-hearted aunt to join a convent.
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