BROAD STAGE The Santa Monica College Music Department will present a romantic concert featuring two Baroque masterpieces: Sebastian Dur√≥n’s delightful baroque zarzuela “Salir el amor del mundo,” performed with baroque period instruments and with staging based on the Grammy-nominated edition by Rich Savino and El Mundo; and a fully staged production of Henry Purcell’s renowned love story, “Dido and Aeneas,” with beautiful modern dance choreography by SMC dance instructor Mark Tomasic.
This is the second season the school has produced a Spanish opera, or zarzuela. Last year, their production of Luisa Fernanda was attended by none other than Placido Domingo, who spoke with the cast and took photos with the students
Cora Ripatti, a Production Assistant on with the show said the performances differ from the traditional idea of what opera can be.
“When most people think of opera, they think of popular 19th Century operas like Carmen, La Boheme, Barber of Seville or Wagner’s Ring Cycle,” she said. “While Baroque opera might be less familiar, it holds a special place in the operatic repertoire, and shows us the roots of this five-century old art form. The pieces being performed by SMC Opera Theatre come from the late 17th Century and involve a lighter, more chamber-like texture with lots of subtle color and nuance. Dur√≥n’s zarzuela reveals its Spanish nature in wonderful dance rhythms of the period and special percussion instruments like castanets. The BACH COLLEGIUM SAN DIEGO, one of the premier early music ensembles on the West Coast, will provide the unique texture and quality of a period instrument orchestra.”
The concert is a joint performance of the SMC Opera Theatre (directed by Janelle DeStefano), the SMC Chamber Choir (directed by William Belan), the SMC Dance Department, and the Bach Collegium San Diego. Ripatti said the joint production helps highlight the connections between the two pieces.
In the Dur√≥n work, the Huntress – Diana – banishes Cupid (Amor) from the world, with unexpected results. Cupid returns in Purcell’s masterpiece – one of the earliest English operas – to command the hearts of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and her love Aeneas, the Trojan hero.
“Playing upon Cupid’s appearance in both operas, the dancers serve as Cupid’s helpful cherubs & embody the enduring power of love; tracing Cupid’s orbit throughout,” she said. “They lead a double life in Dido & Aeneas – also serving as minions to the evil Sorceress. Weaving modern kinesis through the varied acts, Tomasic’s choreography is a refreshing juxtaposition to the early music ensemble.”
Ripatti described opera as the culmination of the arts with elements of Literature, Poetry, Theatre, Music, Dance, Costume and Visual Arts. She said the participation in opera, as a performer or audience member, challenges individuals to expand their appreciation of the human experience.
“Opera not only challenges the human voice to express itself (as a singer) in its fullest capacity – it also challenges the listener to explore the depths of emotion in a way that is seldom experienced in everyday life,” she said. “When the human voice resonates with such rich vocal dimension to tell a story; the audience is transported from the mundane to another worldly realm. This elevated expression of the human condition renders a powerful and unforgettable impact. Opera has deep seeded roots in the history and tradition of classical music. However, it is the students of opera which we must support. Through performances like these, they hone their craft and help cultivate the future innovation of this precious art form.”
Performances are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, May 21, 22, 23 at 7:30 p.m. at The Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center (Santa Monica Boulevard at 11th Street). Tickets range from $15 to $30. A modest service charge applies. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.smc.edu/eventsinfo or by calling (310) 434-3005. Tickets may also be purchased at the door up to 45 minutes before the performance start time. Free parking available on the premises. For tickets and information, go to www.smc.edu/eventsinfo or call (310) 434-3005 or (310) 434-4323.
– Grace Smith contributed to this story