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Opera and Music Theater Company Celebrates 65th Consecutive Season

Oklahoma City University’s award-winning Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company is celebrating its 65th consecutive season — the world’s longest streak of campus opera and music theater productions — with six shows exploring “A Season of Dreamers.”

“This important milestone highlights the legacy that Oklahoma City University has created for our city, our state, and the arts across the world,” said Mark Parker, Ann Hundley Hoover Chair and Dean of OCU’s Wanda L. Bass School of Music.

The season kicks off Sept. 31-Oct. 2 with the musical Hairspray, winner of eight Tony Awards, presented with full orchestra, followed by the spotlight musical Floyd Collins (Nov. 4-6), and Puccini’s La Rondine (Nov. 18-20), in Italian with English supertitles. The 2017 half of the season begins Feb. 17-19 with the Oklahoma premiere of the American opera Dark Sisters, with composer Nico Muhly in residence, followed by The Juniper Tree by Philip Glass and Robert Moran (March 3-5), and Cole Porter’s ###em (April 21-23).

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with 3 p.m. Sunday matinees. Tickets are $12 for spotlight productions and $14-$28 for main stage shows, from 405.208.5227 or www.okcu.edu/tickets. Free director’s talks are held 45 minutes before curtain of each main stage show.

Twice each semester, Parker and Dr. David Herendeen, director of opera and music theater, host themed opening night dinners, with musical accompaniment, in the Bass Music Center Atrium. Dinners for 2016-17 are Sept. 30, Nov. 18, Feb. 17, and April 21. Reservations ($25) may be made at 405.208.5227.

OCU’s first musical production, Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, was presented on April 4, 1930. As the university’s talent pool and audiences expanded over the next two decades, the University established the Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company. In 1951, the Company mounted the first of what has become 65 consecutive seasons of fully staged productions. The Company — recent winner of two first-place production awards from the National Opera Association — has presented more than 1,100 performances of more than 160 different operas and musicals. The program’s alumni have excelled from Broadway to Bayreuth, and include opera stars Leona Mitchell and Sarah Coburn, Tony nominees Ron Raines and Lara Teeter and Tony winners Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O’Hara.

“We have made a difference, we are making a difference, and we will continue to make a difference by taking responsibility for educating talented artists and supporting them as they go on to become leaders in the arts,” Parker said.

Details of the Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company’s 65th season:


September 30-October 2

Main Stage Musical: Kirkpatrick Auditorium

Music/lyrics: Marc Shaiman / Scott Wittman

Book: Mark O’Donnell, Thomas Meehan

Inspired by: John Waters’ 1988 film, Hairspray

Of note: Winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

What the critics say:Stocked with canny, deliriously tuneful songs…Hairspray is as sweet as a show can be without promoting tooth decay...recreating the pleasures of the old-fashioned musical comedy without seeming old-fashioned.” — The New York Times

Synopsis: It’s 1962, and the lovable Baltimore teen Tracy Turnblad has one mission: to dance on the Corny Collins Show. When her dream comes true, she is transformed from social outcast to teen queen, and must use her newfound power to dethrone the reigning mean girl, win the affections of heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate a TV network — all without denting her 'do!

Creative team:

Karen Coe Miller, Director

Matthew Mailman, Music Director


November 4-6

Spotlight Musical: Burg Theatre

Music/lyrics: Adam Guettel, Tina Landau

Book: Tina Landau

Inspired by: True tale of Kentucky farmer trapped in a cave in 1925

Of note: Lucille Lortel Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical

What the critics say:Floyd Collins is the finest work of American musical theater, not excluding opera, to come along since Stephen Sondheim’sSweeney Todd.” — Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

Synopsis: While exploring a cave he dreams of promoting to tourists, Floyd Collins himself becomes the attraction when he is trapped 200 feet underground. For two weeks, he fights for his sanity and his life as the rescue effort triggers the first modern American media frenzy, causing the nation to holding its collective breath. This haunting, intense musical feature folk and bluegrass ballads colored by echoes of Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.

Creative team:

David Herendeen, Director

Charles Koslowske, Music Director


November 18-20

Main Stage Opera: Kirkpatrick Auditorium

Music: Giocomo Puccini

Libretto: Giuseppe Adami

Inspired by: German libretto by Alfred Willner and Heinz Reichert

Of note: This season marks the opera’s 100th anniversary; the three-act lyric comedy was premiered in neutral Monte Carlo on March 27, 1917, in the middle of World War I.

What the critics say: “If you were to cross La Traviata with Die Fledermausand sprinkle it liberally with snippets from La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly, you would come up with something very like Puccini's La Rondine. —San Francisco Chronicle

Synopsis: The swallow, or “rondine,” of the title is the courtesan Magda, who dreams of leaving her gilded cage to fly in search of happiness and true love. Her relationship with a man who knows nothing of her history unfolds within a colorful score highlighting Puccini’s only operatic dance music, evoking the romance of Paris and South of France as she ponders whether to share her past or start anew.

Creative team:

Karen Coe Miller, Director

Jan McDaniel, Music Director


February 17-19

Main Stage Opera: Kirkpatrick Auditorium

Music: Nico Muhly

Libretto: Stephen Karam

Inspired by: Sister-wives in a polygamist sect

Of note: Co-commissioned and co-produced by Gotham Chamber Opera Music-Theatre Group, and Opera Company of Philadelphia

What the critics say: “A moving and mournful new opera.” - The L Magazine

Synopsis: Set against a red-earthed landscape filled with revelations, dark prophets and white temples, this new American opera sprung from the American Southwest charts a woman’s quest for self-discovery and dreams of a new life for her and her daughter, in a world where personal identity is forbidden.

Creative team:

David Herendeen, Director

Matthew Mailman, Music Director

Composer and librettist will be in residence at OCU for rehearsals and premiere


March 3-5

Spotlight Opera: Burg Theatre

Music: Philip Glass and Robert Moran

Libretto: Robert Moran

Inspired by: Von dem Machandelboom, a tale by the Brothers Grimm

Of note: The chamber work is Glass’ first opera set to an English text

What the critics say: The two composers' styles dovetail remarkably well — Moran waxing more angular and illustrative, Glass supplying his patented arpeggiated fantasias, like Janácek ostinatos blissing out on peyote — to form a score perhaps not riveting but attractive and touching. — The Collegiate Chorale

Synopsis: The Grimm fairy tale tells an eerie poetic story of a wicked stepmother who kills her stepson and cooks him into a stew for his unsuspecting father. The boy has the last laugh, however, when his sister buries his bones beneath a juniper tree and his spirit returns as a singing bird who wreaks vengeance before being restored to life with his family.

Creative team:

Karen Coe Miller, Director

Rebekah Parker, Music Director


April 21-23

Main Stage Musical: Kirkpatrick Theatre

Music and Lyrics: Cole Porter

Book: Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, revised by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse

Inspired by: An idea by producer Vinton Freedley, conceived while he was hiding from creditors by living on a fishing boat

Of note: Tony Award winner for Best Revival of a Musical, 1987 and 2011

What the critics say: “Vintage Broadway musicals were about pure pleasure, and this one delivers a boatload of it…the show is so packed with daffy physical shtick, comical dialogue and those still dazzlingly clever Cole Porter lyrics that it’s impossible not to surrender.” — The Hollywood Reporter

Synopsis: Set aboard the luxury ocean liner S.S. American, bound from New York to England, the classic musical features evangelist-turned nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and her pal, Billy Crocker, who has stowed away to be near the woman of his dreams, debutante Hope Harcourt, who in turn is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Joining this love triangle are Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin, and his sidekick-in-crime, Erma. With the assistance of elaborate disguises, tap-dancing sailors and good old-fashioned blackmail — and a score including classics such as It’s De-Lovely, I Get A Kick Out of You, Anything Goes, and You’re the Top — the stars align to help Billy in his quest to win Hope’s heart.

Creative team:

David Herendeen, Director

Jan McDaniel, Music Director

For additional information on these and other performances at the Bass School of Music, visit ###a href="http://www.okcu.edu/music" title="Music school home">www.okcu.edu/music.

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