Italian-language opera show relatable to student audience

Rebecca Watters

This weekend the UK Opera Theatre will bring an Italian love story center stage at the Singletary Center, performing the Italian opera “Cosi fan tutte” from Friday to Sunday.

The process to bring the piece from auditions to rehearsals to the stage has been underway since April. Actors had the summer to prepare after being cast, and coaching began in the fall. Director Richard Gammon came in January to begin stage rehearsals.

“At a typical rehearsal … my process is to have the students sing through the piece with no staging,” Gammon said. “Then we speak the text in English, and then in Italian as a straight play, and then we add stage directions.”

Since the opera will be performed completely in Italian, there will be English subtitles projected in the recital hall during the performance so the audience can follow along.

According to producer Everett McCorvey, the subtitles are not the only digital element to the performance.

“We are using a very large digital projection screen to project most of the scenery,” he said. “We are using set pieces, but the backdrop is a projected scene.”

While the opera may be Italian, Gammon said the storyline is relatable to everyone.

“There’s something really approachable about this piece,” he said. “The storyline is about fidelity, and it’s a very normal human condition. From Shakespeare to Adele, we encounter this in everyday life.”

Gammon has also updated the piece’s historical context. He said he often enjoys tweaking pieces with his collaborative partners so they are more relatable to modern times and create a sense of immediacy and recognition.

“Instead of corsets in this piece, the students will be wearing dresses from H&M or other stores at the mall,” he said.

As the curtain gets closer and closer to being drawn, Assistant Director Kathrin Thawley looks forward to seeing the students’ hard work pay off. She has enjoyed working alongside Gammon since the beginning, and, as his assistant, she has taken notes and has worked with the chorus.

“I love watching artists grow from the first rehearsal to the final performance,” she said. “This is my first time as an assistant director in opera, and I’ve learned so much working with Richard and the students.”