Appalachian Opera Theatre marries comedy, infidelity

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The Appalachian Online

The Appalachian

The Appalachian Opera Theatre performed Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” – entirely in Italian – in Rosen Concert Hall of the Broyhill Music Center from March 26-29.

The plot of the drama takes place within the estate of a count and his wife. Figaro, played by vocal performance graduate student Jacob Cook, once borrowed money from the housekeeper of the estate and he must either repay her by a certain time or marry her. Figaro is in love with the countess’s chambermaid, Susana, played by performance graduate student Mary Royall Hight, however, and must fend off her many suitors while trying to come up with money to pay back the housekeeper. Among Susana’s suitors is the count himself, whose illicit affections bring the entire estate together to help Figaro win Susana.

English translations of the lyrics were projected for the audience’s understanding during the two-hour opera. Hight said she had to enlist the help of music professor Julia Pedigo to learn some of the Italian pronunciation required for her role.

“Without the guidance of my teacher, Dr. Julia Pedigo and the support and energy of my dear friend and co-star Jacob Cook, who played Figaro, I would not have been able to take on the role of Susana,” Hight said.

Nearly 80 cast and crew members worked together to produce “Figaro” and preparation took many hours of effort. Cook said he knew going into it that the opera would be an ambitious undertaking.

“Being the only title character in an opera means extra rehearsals and very few breaks,” he said.

For the role of Susana, Hight took on the longest female opera role ever written. She is currently pursuing a Master of Music in vocal performance.

“It is indeed the biggest and hardest role I’ve ever studied and performed,” she said.

Hight insisted that without Cook’s support and energy, she would not have been able to take on the role of the effervescent Susana.

AJ McCurry, stage manager and senior vocal performance major, said that the show did not come together fully until about a week before opening night.

“Beginning with the first dress rehearsal last Sunday, this incredible, creative and artistic energy just seemed to possess everyone in the cast and it came together with each and every night getting better and better,” McCurry said.

Matt Moore, freshman vocal performance major, who played the count’s lawyer, said that The Appalachian Opera Theatre achieved a performance that filled the seats of Rosen Concert Hall for all four shows.

“Working on ‘Figaro’ was a big task for all of us to put together, but in the end, we did it,” Moore said, “and quite well, I might add.”

The Hayes School of Music will host a student trumpet recital from 6-7 p.m. today in the recital hall as well as a Woodwind Chamber Ensemble from 8-9 p.m. in Rosen Concert Hall.

STORY: Mary Kate McCann, Intern A&E Reporter