Western Carolina University will present the opera “Rigoletto,” produced by the Asheville Lyric Opera, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, in the main performance hall of the Fine and Performing Arts Center, with three WCU music students in supporting roles.
“Rigoletto,” a three-act opera set in Mentua during the 1500s, is about a man’s struggle with his position in life. “What makes ‘Rigoletto’ one of the staples of the operatic repertoire is that it engages people on many different levels and in many different ways. It is a love story, a morality play and a tragedy all rolled into one,” said stage director David Carl Toulson. “The characters in this opera are not archetypes; they are flawed and complex people who are simply living their lives and must face up to the consequences of their actions.”
Based on an earlier play, Giuseppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto” was first performed in 1851 in Venice. Baritone Mark Owens Davis, who most recently appeared in the Asheville Lyric Opera as Capulet in “Romeo et Juliette” and specializes in the Verdi repertoire, will play the role of Rigoletto. Brian Cheney, a tenor who has received national acclaim for several of his operatic roles, will play the Duke. In the role of Gilda is Emily Douglass, who won the 2006 Meistersinger International Vocal Competition in Graz, Austria, and currently teaches voice at the University of Tennessee and Maryville College.
WCU graduate students studying vocal performance, Heather Hallmark and Cynthia Smith, as well as undergraduate music major Lance Newman, will be singing supporting, solo roles in the show. Hallmark will appear as Giovanna, Smith as Countess Ceprano, and Newman as the Herald.
“Rigoletto,” presented by WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts and WCU’s Lectures, Concerts and Exhibitions Series, is the second Asheville Lyric Opera to show in the Fine and Performing Arts Center. Performers will sing in Italian, without amplification, with English translations appearing on a screen above the stage.
“This opera, in particular, is interesting because it deals with characters who are making potent decisions about their lives in response to the situations they find themselves in, sometimes by choice and sometimes not by choice,” said Kristen Yarborough, Asheville Lyric Opera’s company manager. “Nonetheless, all of the characters make active, direct decisions about their lives and are willing to pay the consequences for them, even death. ‘Rigoletto’ also is exciting because Verdi chose to make the title character a hunchback jester, not a romantic hero, which is often the case in opera.”
Tickets for “Rigoletto” are free to WCU students, although they must be requested in advance; $5 for WCU faculty, staff, children and senior citizens; and $10 for the general public. For more information, contact the Fine and Performing Arts Center box office at (828) 227-2479 or visit http://wcutheatre.ticketsxchange.com.