Music students, faculty presenting comic opera ‘The Hotel Casablanca’

WCU students rehearse a scene from the upcoming production of the comic opera “The Hotel Casablanca.”

Students and faculty from Western Carolina University’s School of Music will present the comic opera “The Hotel Casablanca” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, in the recital hall of the university’s Coulter Building.

Admission is free for the show, which will be performed in English and features a rural Texas setting complete with singers in cowboy hats and boots.

Written by American composer Thomas Pasatieri, the opera tells the story of Tom and Tallulah Carter, owners of the Double T Ranch. Tom and Tallulah are trying to toughen up Charles Carter, their nephew from New York City. When Tom’s suspenders arrive in the mail from the seedy Hotel Casablanca, what ensues is suspicion, love, passion, dancing and general hilarity, said Mary Kay Bauer, an associate professor in the School of Music who is producing and directing the performance.

The part of Tallulah Carter will be sung by Michelle Lang, a sophomore from West Palm Beach, Florida, majoring in choral music education, while the part of Tom Carter will be sung by Matthew Brooks, a junior from Holly Springs majoring in jazz guitar. Jay Bowman, a junior from Waxhaw majoring in commercial and electronic music, is singing the part of Charles Carter. Other student members of the cast are Keely Smith, senior from Charlotte; Jacob Plaisted, senior from Charlotte; Lilly Davis, freshman from Asheboro; Wesley Walker, senior from Jacksonville; Christine Reeder, sophomore from Asheboro; and Jessica Nash, senior from Charlotte.

Bauer said all the student cast members are enrolled in a course she is teaching this semester titled “Opera Workshop.” Those students also are involved in voice-related courses in which they receive instruction in the classical technique of singing.

Two other students, props mistress Mickey McCabe, sophomore from Lawndale, and assistant director Catarina Sanchez, sophomore from Charlotte, are providing technical help, Bauer said.

The pianist for the performance is Ann Tiner, a member of the music staff. Costumes are being provided by the Flatrock Playhouse and WCU’s Costume Shop, with coordination and fitting by Joy Hutcher, a senior from Franklin. Sets are being provided by Aaron’s of Sylva and WCU’s School of Stage and Screen. Set decoration for the production is being done by students from a class taught by Erin Tapley, director of the School of Art and design.

For more information, contact Bauer at 828-227-3275 or