Luther College students to perform in Spring Opera

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The Luther College Music Department will present two one-act operas by Giacomo Puccini: "Sister Angelica" and "Gianni Schicchi." Thought by many to be the quintessential Italian opera composer, Puccini's penchant for writing beautiful melodies and for breathing musical life into a story are on full display in these two works.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 9, and Saturday, May 10, in the Main Hall of the Center for Faith and Life on the Luther campus.

"Sister Angelica" takes place in the late 18th century in a convent on the Mediterranean Sea. Amid the daily activities of the nuns a mysterious story unfolds: no one knows why Sister Angelica, a noble woman by birth, came to the convent seven years ago, nor why she has not heard from her family or friends since she arrived. When Angelica's aunt makes an unexpected visit to the convent, Angelica is confronted with heartbreaking news and a terrible dilemma. Puccini's music soars as Angelica resolves to place her fate in the hands of the Virgin Mary.

The action of "Gianni Schicchi" takes place in Florence in the year 1918. The relatives of Buoso Donati are gathered by his deathbed; yet, rather than mourning his loss, the Donati family desperately wants to inherit a fortune from Buoso's will. They are stunned to find it has been left entirely to the church.

The Donatis seek the help of Gianni Schicchi, a crafty and notorious swindler. Together, they hatch a plot to revoke Buoso's will, but Gianni's true motives are revealed when the lawyer arrives. This masterful comedy, which contains one of opera's most beloved arias, never fails to entertain.

Both operas are double cast in the leading roles. Sopranos Andrea Keuper and Brittney Leemon sing the title role in "Sister Angelica." Baritones David Geist and Evan Mitchell sing the title role in "Gianni Schicchi." One of the most famous and iconic arias in all of opera, "O mio babbino caro" from "Gianni Schicchi," will be sung by sopranos Vanessa Libbey and Jennifer LeDoux, playing the role of Schicchi's daughter Lauretta. The performances will be sung in English.

Mitchell and LeDoux are the two most recent recipients of the Alan R. and Sally J. Brudos Family Prize for Opera Performance at Luther College. Mitchell was the recipient for the 2013-14 academic year. He gave the Brudos Family Opera Prize recital on April 12 where LeDoux was named the 2014-15 recipient of the opera performance award.

Stage direction is by Andrew Whitfield, Luther associate professor of music, set design by Jeff Dintaman, professor of theatre, and the Luther College Chamber Orchestra will be conducted by Daniel Baldwin, professor of music.

Regular tickets for the performance are $15 and $8 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online through Luther's new website or through the Luther Ticket Office by calling (563) 387-1357. The Ticket Office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9-10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Tuesday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with extended hours on Thursdays, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.