UNL Opera program presents ‘Don Pasquale’

UNL Opera program presents ‘Don Pasquale’

calendar icon27 Oct 2017    

Don Pasquale poster image
Don Pasquale poster image

The Glenn Korff School of Music’s UNL opera program presents “Don Pasquale” by Gaetano Donizetti and directed by Professor and Director of Opera William Shomos and conducted by Professor and Director of Orchestras Tyler White.

Performances are Saturday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. in Kimball Recital Hall.

Sparkling with virtuosic singing and playful humor, this boisterous comedic opera pits the miserly Don Pasquale against his nephew Ernesto and Ernesto’s sweetheart, the crafty young Norina.

Guest artist Peter Strummer, who was scheduled to play the lead role of Don Pasquale, has withdrawn from the production, and Shomos will be taking on the role.

“The opera is based on a silly story, like a lot of these 19th century comic Italian operas,” Shomos said. “You don’t want to analyze the details of the plot too much, but Donizetti’s music captures the situations in remarkable ways ennobling the opera with real heartfelt poignancy along with a lot of joy-filled fun.”

Alfonzo Cooper Jr., a doctoral student from Waynesboro, Georgia, portrays Ernesto, the banished nephew.

“This opera is also about the principle of relationships,” Cooper said. “We see in this opera how Don Pasquale treats his own family and what that does for him in the end. I think it is important that people understand that the relationships that we form with our families and people are very important and should not be taken for granted.”

Arica Coleman, a master’s student from Lincoln, plays Norina.

“Norina is a strong woman, the owner of a bar and desperately in love with Ernesto,” she said. “She will do whatever it takes to be with Ernesto, even pretend like she is a shy, convent girl, fake marry an old man and become a crazy, controlling wife.”

Coleman is looking forward to acting “over-the top” and having fun interacting with her fellow performers on stage.

“I am also thrilled to sing the role of Norina because ‘Don Pasquale’ is of a genre called Bel Canto, containing fast and high coloratura and gorgeous melodies, making it my favorite style to sing,” she said.

Jared Hiscock, a doctoral student from Grass Valley, California, plays Dr. Malatesta, a friend and doctor to Don Pasquale.

“I love how fun and exciting all of the singing in this opera is,” he said. 

The set is designed by Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film graduate student Jessica Thompson, who designed last year’s production of “Little Women.”

“We’ve got terrific student designers over from theatre,” Shomos said. “At our very first production, I tossed out the possibility of playing Pasquale as a Western. Jesse ran with the idea and came back with a lovely design concept setting the action on an American Southwest hacienda. There are so many common parallels between 1840s Texas and Italy (paternalistic customs, socio-economic structures), that it hardly feels like we’re decontextualizing the piece. It works beautifully.”

Cooper said he is looking forward to his first full role with UNL Opera.

“The last time I was on stage for an opera production, I shared a leading role with two other singers,” he said. “Getting to put my chops to a role as this will be exciting and fun. I really enjoy UNL opera set designs. The world of creation in opera is truly magical. Seeing the vision the production team come together is absolutely breath taking.”

Hiscock said audiences “should expect to laugh a lot, never be bored and to witness some seriously operatic singing.”

Coleman agrees.

“Audiences should expect to laugh a lot and hear some incredible singing from our two phenomenal leads, Jared Hiscock and Alfonzo Cooper Jr.,” she said.

Tickets for “Don Pasquale” are $20 adults and $10 students/seniors and are available in advance from the Lied Center Box Office at (402) 472-4747 or at the door. Online Tickets: http://tickets.liedcenter.org/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=1356