Music students to present one-act operas

Release Date: March 28, 2008

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University’s Department of Music is trying something new. Under the direction of Director of Opera and Musical Theatre Jeff Kensmoe, the department will perform two one-act operas at 7:30 p.m. April 3, 4, and 5, in Harral Memorial Auditorium.

Although the group has performed shows consisting of various opera scenes, this is the first time Wayland students are offering a full opera. The show will feature two one-act operas that run the gambit of human emotion. The first opera “Rider of the Sea” is set Ireland, circa 1900.

“It’s about a family that makes its living off the sea,” Kensmoe said. “It is about a woman who has lost virtually her whole family to the sea. This is her last son, who we find out at the beginning of the show has just perished.”

The opera deals with the pain of loss that the woman feels after losing her third son.

“I think it is a beautiful story that talks about mourning,” said Wayland senior Alicia Alford, who performs as Maurya, the lead role. “This is a story that talks about how traditional Irish people lament and mourn.”

Joining Alford in the cast is Rebekah Jackson, who plays Kathleen, Rebecca Ballinger as Nora, and Artega Wright as Bentley.

While the opening opera explores the depths of despair and mourning, the second selection should leave the audience in stitches.

“Oedipus Tex” is loosely based on “Oedipus Rex,” dealing with Rex’s long, lost brother Tex who happens to live in Texas. The opera was written by Peter Shickele’s alter ego, P.D.Q. Bach (1807-1742). Instead of Oedipus Rex who marries his mother Jo Casta and meets with a Sphinx to work through a riddle, Tex marries his mother Billie Jo Casta and meets with Bigfoot for a riddle. And while Rex dealt with the Oracle of Delphi, Tex deals with Madam Peep who reads the Magic Eight Ball.

“What is great about Shickele and his alter ego, P.D.Q. Bach is that he loved to mangle and destroy traditional classical music. It is so funny, crazy and silly, and it actually still sounds good,” Kensmoe said. “We are trying to make as much fun of opera and musical theatre as possible throughout the whole thing.”

Jeremy Contreras will perform the title role in the opera. He will be joined on stage by Garrett Wooten as the sheriff, Rachel Morgan as Billie Jo Casta and Alexis Hall as Madam Peep.

“Riders of the Sea” will last approximately 45 minutes with “Oedipus Tex” lasting about 30 minutes with a 10-15 minute intermission.

“You might cry during the first half,” Alford said, “but we’ll cheer you up before you leave.”