TACOMA, Wash. – This spring University of Puget Sound’s School of Music Opera Theater will perform Gioachino Rossini’s highly entertaining Le Comte Ory, a comedic opera lauded by audiences as one of the Italian composer’s wittiest and most inventive works.
Originally composed in 1828, with music partly derived from a full opera written for the coronation of King Charles X of France, Le Comte Ory tells a farcical story dealing with love and deception. The production, directed by the university’s Director of Vocal Studies Dawn Padula, will be sung in the original French, with English supertitles.
Le Comte Ory will be performed Friday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 11,at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, April 12, at 2 p.m. in University of Puget Sound’s Schneebeck Concert Hall. Ticket information is below.
“This opera is not only hugely entertaining, but it gives Opera Theater students a wonderful opportunity to take on a foreign language opera,” Padula said. “Singing songs or arias in a foreign language is something that is asked of classical singers all the time, but performing an entire opera in the original language is quite a different experience. I’m thrilled to see the vocal and dramatic growth in the students as a result of the work on this project.”
Taking us back to the time of the Crusades, the story unfolds while the lords and men of the castle of Formoutiers are away fighting a religious war. The Count Ory takes advantage of this to devise a plan to win the hand of the countess, Adèle. He disguises himself as a wise hermit who has come to the castle to give advice on matters of the heart. Given access to Adèle, he urges her to fall in love to reverse her melancholy state.
Of course, love is never so simple, and the count’s knight in training, Isolier, emerges as a rival who is also in love with the countess. Sure enough, Adèle falls for Isolier, and the frustrated and still-disguised Count Ory warns her not to trust his rival.
Once Count Ory’s hermit disguise is revealed—to the horror of the court—he tries yet again to win Adèle, this time disguised as a female pilgrim. Without giving the story away, let’s just say that the comedy of errors that follows combines the ridiculous with the sensual, and a play of music that ranges from whimsical to soaring.
Denes Van Parys, who has led performances by opera companies in the United States and abroad, is musical director for the production. Students from the university’s Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gerard Morris, will accompany the singers. Costumes are by Mishka Navarre of the Department of Theatre Arts.
The role of Count Ory will be portrayed by Jane Brogdon ’16; Adèle by Helen Burns ’15 and Lauren Eliason ’16 (on different days); the count’s friend Raimbaud by Michael Stahl ’17; and the page Isolier by Lauren Park ’15 and Lexa Hospenthal ’16. Other key roles will be performed by Alex Simon ’16, John Lampus ’15, Freya Scherlie ’16, Jennifer Mayer ’15, Akela Franklin-Baker ’15, Hailey Hyde ’17, and
Daniel Wolfert ’16. .
Dawn Padula received her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from University of Houston’s Moores School of Music. She has performed many of the major mezzo-soprano operatic roles, including Carmen in Carmen, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Erika in Vanessa, and Isabella in L’Italiana Algeri. In addition she has performed extensively as a soloist in oratorios, such as Handel’s Messiah and Israel in Egypt, and in several orchestral pieces, including the requiems of Mozart and Duruflé. Padula has sung with the Houston Grand Opera, Tacoma Opera, Kitsap Opera, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Amarillo Opera, Alamo City Men’s Chorale, Opera in the Heights of Houston, and Living Opera Company of Dallas, among others.
Denes van Parys is Puget Sound’s staff accompanist and serves as musical director of opera productions. He has worked widely as a musical director, conductor, coach, composer, and arranger. Van Parys has led opera and musical theater performances at numerous venues in the United States, Asia, and Europe. He conducted national tours of Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, and Man of La Mancha. In New York he led the York Theater’s production of Golden Boy, and in Miami he led the world premiere of Charles Stouse’s musical Real Men. Van Parys also is associate conductor at Tacoma Opera and the chorus master for selected productions.
Gerard Morris, director of bands, has a passion for new music that has led him to commission original wind works from artists ranging from Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Colgrass to student composers. Morris’ conducting credits include appearances at Midwest Clinic, Colorado Music Festival, and Steamboat Springs’ Music Festival. He also has been a guest conductor with Chicago’s Sonic Inertia Performance Group, Boulder Brass, and ensembles at Northwestern University, University of Colorado, Iowa State University, and University of Georgia. Morris earned a Master of Music Education degree from University of Colorado Boulder, and a Doctor of Music degree in conducting from Northwestern University.
FOR TICKETS: order online at tickets.pugetsound.edu, or call Wheelock Information Center to purchase with a credit card at 253.879.3100. Admission is $15 for the general public; $10 for seniors (55+), students, military, and Puget Sound faculty and staff; and $7 for Puget Sound students with ID. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.