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OCU presents 'La Rondine' opera

La Rondine couple

Oklahoma City University will celebrate the 100th birthday of
Giacomo Puccini’s lyric opera "La Rondine" with three
performances, Nov. 18-20.

The first opera of OCU’s historic 65th anniversary season will be performed in Italian with English supertitles. The Bass School of Music’s fully staged production features a cast of 38, directed by Karen Coe Miller, and a 51-piece opera orchestra under the direction of Jan McDaniel.

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee in historic Kirkpatrick Auditorium, NW 25th Street and Blackwelder Avenue. Tickets ($14-28) are available from 405-208-5227 or www.okcu.edu/tickets. Miller will present a free pre-show director’s talk 45 minutes before curtain.

“I’ve come to love this opera more each day,” Miller said. “The piece began as an operetta and this inspired Puccini to write some of his most beautiful melodies. He reuses these themes throughout the opera to great dramatic effect. The light-hearted tone and humor of the first two acts pull us into our heroine’s love story, making the final act all the more moving.”

The swallow, or “rondine,” of the title is the courtesan Magda, who dreams of leaving her gilded cage to seek true love. Her relationship with a young suitor who knows nothing of her checkered past unfolds within a colorful score highlighting Puccini’s only operatic dance music. Her dilemma: tell her new beau her history or keep her secret and start anew.

The San Francisco Chronicle describes the work as combining the best of several operas: “If you were to cross 'La Traviata' with 'Die Fledermaus' and sprinkle it liberally with snippets from 'La Bohème,' 'Tosca' and 'Madama Butterfly,' you would come up with something very like Puccini's 'La Rondine.'”

Friday’s opening night will be preceded by a dinner in the atrium of the Bass Music Center. Tickets to the dinner ($25) are available from 405-208-5227 or www.okcu.edu/tickets.

Performing as Magda will be Sarah Kuhlmann and Karlye Whitt; Lisette will be Audrey Ballish, understudied by Cady Lewis; Ruggero will be Benjamin Hopkins and Samuel Schlievert; Prunier will be Ryan Allais, understudied by Stewart Ottersberg; Rambaldo will be Gray Leiper and Jin Yu; Périchaud is Collin O’Neill; Gobin is Ben Hild; Crébillon is Jonathan Lynch; Ivette is Solveig Neseth; Bianca is Kimberly Dyckman; Suzy is Jessica Fritts and Rabonier is Eric Capelle. Also featuring Sydney Marie Hughes, Christine Lutes, Kay Frazier, Sarah Jo Martin, Stewart Ottersberg, Melissa Campbell, Capriana Campo, Elise O’Connell, Cosette Smith, Chelsea Mondesir, Tristen Patton, Taylor Towers, Donald “Trey” Baker, Teddy Edgar, Daniel C. Taylor, Gavin Guthrie, Josh Kelly, Jonah White, David James Garcia, Chris Heron, Jeffrey Laughrun and Austin Martin.

OCU’s Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company season continues in 2017 with the American opera "Dark Sisters" Feb. 17-19, featuring a week-long residency with composer Nico Muhly.

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