Opera is one of the hardest forms of performance because of the intense vocal technique combined with the acting and costumes. Ohio University’s first opera performance of the year will be a series of opera scenes.
The Opera Scenes performance is a combination created by director Andrew Ryker, an assistant professor and the director of opera, that includes five scenes by German composers that were originally written in German. OU will be performing the English translations of the scenes. The five pieces that all come from different operas accumulate to form the whole opera, which was put together in just six weeks.
Taylor Mayne, a graduate student studying vocal performance, will be playing one of the leads in the opera.
Mayne is portraying two different roles. First, he will play Alfred in the scene from Die Fledermaus. The scene is comedic, and Mayne’s character is trying to win over a married woman whose husband is going to jail. His second character is Danilo in the scene from The Merry Widow. In that scene, he is a ladies man who is complaining about women with his friends at a party.
Although Mayne is a vocal performance master’s student, he didn’t start singing until he was a senior in high school. He participated in some solo and ensemble contests as a tenor and was the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. He then decided to study vocal performance, starting his degree at Northern Arizona University and finishing at the University of Iowa.
“This show is a chance to see some amazing music that you won’t get to see at other schools,” Mayne said. “If you go to a smaller school there is no way you’d get to see these world-renowned operas, so this is a great opportunity to spread your horizons since a lot of people don’t get to go see opera that much.”
When a student is interested in opera, they usually major in vocal performance. If a student who isn’t in the music program wants to audition, they can, but they have a lesser chance of getting a lead role. Usually when auditioning, performers are required to sing an aria, a long accompanied song for a solo voice, which is somewhat related to the show. But for this performance, Ryker placed the students where he wanted them because it’s the first show of the season.
The rehearsal process was quick and intense. The cast members came into the school year rehearsing the music. They spent the first three or four weeks really diving into the music and making sure it was perfect and then started staging for the few weeks after that. This week, they have been having dress rehearsals in preparation for their performances Thursday and Friday.
“It’s so fun to work for Andrew because he expects the best,” Mayne said. “He expects a certain high quality, and that’s what we want to give him.”
Students inside and outside of the music school are showing great excitement for the performance. Sam Murtiff, a freshman studying exercise physiology, is looking forward to seeing the show.
“This performance sounds so exciting,” Murtiff said. “The combination of the scenes to form one show seems really cool, and I love that it’s the English translation, so I’ll understand what’s going on.”