Opera workshop stages Mozart’s “day of madness.”
By Bill Giduz
Mozart looked ver y familiar under that long, f lowing, white wig sitting at a small table in the wings of Tyler-Tallman Hall. He spoke up only occasionally, narrating his comic opera Marriage of Figaro as student and faculty cast members performed it on the stage. If audience members who filled the hall for two shows of the production didn’t recognize the visage beneath the wig, they certainly recognized the voice and laugh as belonging to Director Emeritus of the Library Leland Park.
Park was delighted to have been offered the cameo role by the producer,―his music department friend Jacquelyn Culpepper, artist associate in voice. And he was equally delighted to leave the singing to the cast of six students and two other faculty members on stage! They were Durwin Striplin, professor of chemistry, Dan Boye, professor of physics, and students Jane McGraw ’13, Wilson Mericle ’12, Jennifer Nicholson ’12, Sierra Roberts ’13, Patrick Scully ’12, and Zoe Williams ’14.
Originally composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1786, the opera is based on an earlier stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais. It recounts a single “day of madness” in the palace of the Count Almaviva near Seville, Spain, and it became one of Mozart’s most successful works.
Culpepper produced a slightly abbreviated version of the original work as the music department’s annual opera workshop production. The actors received no academic credit for their participation, and other obligations limited rehearsals to once a week throughout the fall semester. But Culpepper was thrilled with the final product. “Presenting a performance of this caliber in such little time attests to the strength, talent, and intellect of Davidson students,” she said. “It was a perfect opportunity to expose members of the public to an evening of opera, and provide our singers a chance to perform a major work.”