A Midsummer Night’s Dream first opera set in the Karen Hille Phillips Center
Fairy high jinks, true love and bewitching spells will play out on stage at the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts January 23-26 when PLU’s Opera series presents Benjamin Britten’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Originally premiered in 1960 at the Aldeburgh Festival, Britten’s evocative score has a rich harmonic texture, beautiful lyrical music and moments of baroque and florid music.
Britten pays attention to the Shakespearean play's central theme: the madness of love. The plot follows that of the play, though Britten cut much of Act I and re-ordered scenes. Music tends to lengthen the duration of text, but anyone who knows the play will recognize the story.
Jim Brown, vocal chair and director of A Midsummer Night's Dream, is updating the opera to modern day Central Park in New York City- for a sort of "Shakespeare in the Park" production, Brown explains.
As the first opera produced in the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Brown is keen to use new Phillips Center features. The annual opera series was formally produced in Lagerquist Concert Hall.
“We are using the many wonderful new features of the Phillips Center - including the great fly system,” Brown says. “We will be able to create different scenic looks of the ‘forest’ with this. It is a beautiful space and the students are thrilled to be performing there.”
Brown likes to present a wide variety of musical styles to students. PLU Opera has done early operas like Monteverdi's L'Orfeo and Handel's Semele, core repertoire operas like Mozart's Magic Flute and Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus, and 20th century operas like Kurt Weill's Street Scene and now A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Britten.
“I love introducing new works to students and seeing the fresh ideas they bring to a centuries-old art form,” Brown says.
Each year Brown looks for operas with a large cast in order to accommodate as many students as possible. He also double casts many roles to offer more students the chance to learn and perform an entire role.
Currently students are rehearsing every day from noon-5pm. In the mornings, cast members travel to area high schools for outreach.
“This has been extremely successful! So, we have very full days, but we are loving the opera immersion,” Brown says.
Tickets can be purchased through the PLU Campus Box Office at the Concierge desk in the Anderson University Center and on the phone at 253-535-7411. Tickets are $15 General Admission, $10 Senior Citizens (55+) and PLU Alumni, and $5 for PLU community, students, and 18 and under. Shows on January 23-25 start at 8pm with a final matinee at 3pm on Sunday, January 26.
Change was in the air when Assistant Professor of Theatre, Dr. Lori Lee Wallace, came to PLU in fall 2012. This was the same year President Krise arrived as the 13th president of PLU, the Theatre program was taking on two new tenure-line positions, and the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was near completion. During her first year, students took to Wallace quickly. After her first class students would stream out of her lecture, smiles plastered on their faces, raving about the new faculty member.
It was during the first weeks of her undergraduate program at University of Arizona, a conservatory program strictly focused on classical theatre, that she decided she wanted to be a professor.
“That was how extreme the impact was that those professors had on me,” Wallace says. “They changed my whole world in a matter of weeks and all I have wanted to do since then was have the same impact on students' lives.”
After her undergraduate degree, she traveled to England to earn her MFA at University of Exeter. World-renowned Shakespeare expert, Professor Peter Thomson, drew her there. When she got to Exeter, she developed the impression that Thomson had been trying to retire for years, but as a student-favorite, they just would not let him leave. It was also during her time in Exeter when she studied with Phillip Zarrilli, who would become the topic of her dissertation, though she had no idea at the time.
“Some teachers do not impact your life until years later when you realize that you have been teaching elements of his or her work without even realizing it,” Wallace says.
For her PhD, she attended the University of Colorado. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival had also offered her a job as a dramaturg and she was given the opportunity to teach during her four years there.
At University of Colorado, it was the norm for PhD students to rotate the classes they taught – though most only taught one semester of Acting for Non Majors. It was not long before the department realized they wanted to keep her on to teach for BFA students. The wait lists for her classes were long and students were bringing her techniques to rehearsals and other acting classes. She had begun making her impact and could not be more thrilled. In total, she taught eight semesters of Acting I and Acting II along with Directing, Voice, and Auditions. During this time she was also given the opportunity to direct university productions. She was finally a director as teacher - exactly what she wanted to be.
During her final year at CU she began applying for jobs as a professor. She applied all over the country at several different types of universities.
“I remember thinking how extraordinary it would be if I found such a job in the Northwest, as my entire family lives in Portland,” Wallace says. “When I received the call from PLU, I was thrilled. It was the perfect fit, and I am extremely blessed to work here. “
What was your first impression of PLU?
My first days on campus, I remember thinking that everyone at this school is just so incredibly kind. Everyone looks out for one another and it’s a beautiful thing. It was wonderful to have my first year the
same as President Krise.
It felt as though a wonderful transition was taking place and that I was a part of it. He is such an inspiring person and I am incredibly proud to have him as our president. He and Patty come to all of our theatre productions and it means a lot to all of us.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For a professor and a performer, I am surprisingly introverted and shy. As a child, I barely spoke to anyone, but once my mother put me on a stage (or in some cases, a coffee table at family reunions), I was in my element. I have been performing for as long as I can remember; I do not even think there was a time when I considered not performing or being a part of the arts.
What's a typical day like for you at PLU?
Everything has changed now that we have the beautiful Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. I have never worked in such a beautiful facility. When we are in a production, all of us involved have incredibly long days on campus, sometimes 12 - 14 hours long. So, my office needs to be a sanctuary of sorts for me.
I start each day doing Fitzmaurice Voicework, for which I am a certified instructor. The PLU students who have taken my voice class will often join me, which is always wonderful. For spring semester, my first class of the day is Directing II, our advanced directing course. I then have a break for lunch and office hours, after which I teach one of two classes: The Audition, or Senior Capstone. I then have a very brief break before rehearsals begin at 6:00 p.m. and last until 10:00 p.m. This semester, I am directing Macbeth, which I am thrilled about.
What's the best thing that's happened to you since coming to PLU?
So many wonderful things have happened to me since I arrived at PLU, it is difficult to choose a favorite. My first production, Our Town, was a wonderful experience for me. I have always loved that play and the PLU students and faculty made the play something truly unique.
I continue to feel blessed to work in SOAC. The faculty, staff, and students are inspiring, extraordinarily kind, and supportive. We are a family here. I have felt that since my first days.
Who do you feel you are most influenced by in your work?
Catherine Fitzmaurice, Saul Kotzuebi, Phillip Zarrelli, Jerzy Grotowski, Constantin Stanislavski, Michael Chekhov, Antony Sher, Jane Lapotaire, and my incredible students.
What do you do when you're not at PLU?
I love to travel, go to concerts, longboard on Ruston Way, and keep up my diligent search for Washington's perfect hamburger.
Professor Emeritus and former University Organist David Dahl released a new CD titled The Organ Sings, which features compositions drawn from publications of his organ music over the past 25 years. The recording features organist Mark Brombaugh playing the renowned John Brombaugh pipe organ built in 1979 by the performer’s brother, and located at Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma, Wash.
Dahl’s music includes both sacred and secular music, much of it composed for the Brombaugh organ at Christ Church where he served as organist/choirmaster for 40 years, but also for PLU’s Gottfried and Mary Fuchs organ in Lagerquist Concert Hall.
An 80-page volume of organ music by Dahl, also titled The Organ Sings, was released in 2013. Dahl’s compositions include the Suite Homage (four pieces paying tribute to prior composers Buxtehude, Couperin, Franck and Dubois), as well as variation suites and hymn preludes on both early American hymn-tunes and Lutheran chorale melodies. Dahl is working on three new commissions for organ music intended for Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood, Wash., All Hallows Parish, Episcopal in South River, Mass., and for the 2016 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.
On January 25, 2014, Seattle and Tacoma Chapters of the American Guild of Organists will meet at Calvary Lutheran Church, Federal Way, Wash., for a program featuring Dahl’s music performed on the Coulter pipe organ by six Tacoma organists. The repertoire draws from his Hymn Interpretations for Organ, An English Suite for Organ, An Italian Suite for Organ, A Scandinavian Suite for Organ, An American Suite for Organ, and The Organ Sings.
The Organ Sings is available through Raven Records, Amazon.com, as well as Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma.
SOAC students are going on academic adventures around the world this month. Check out the classes below and follow their travels on their blogs!
Led by: Art Land, Resident Instructor of Communication
During this urban J-Term course, students will learn from Australian media professionals how their film, television, radio, and Internet differ from the same products in the United States. On-site visits are planned to, Channel 9 (Australia’s largest television station), Triple J (Australia’s alternative public radio station), the Australian Communication and Media Authority, and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. The trip will begin in Melbourne, then to Sydney and on to Canberra. Students will have the opportunity to observe Australian media and their connection to the Australian culture. Students will also visit zoos and experience Australian wildlife first hand at various points throughout the trip.
Austria, Czech Republic, Germany: Music Capitals of the World
Led by: Ed Powell, Associate Professor of Music, Director of Bands
This one region of Europe was the central location for many of the greatest musicians that history has ever known. Classical music traditions still flourish and Europeans take great pride in presenting programs “as they were.” This course will study the worlds of these great composers by experiencing their art and culture first hand. Trips to the symphony, opera house, salons and theaters, as well as museums, homes, and gravesites will help participants to understand, contextualize, and humanize these great artists. Students will spend their time visiting significant sites in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, such as the birthplace of Mozart, which will further help participants to understand the greater musical environment of the region. Particular attention will be focused on the works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Bach and Mendelssohn, as well as other composers whose works will be presented during the public performances that the class will attend.
England with a real Hairy Potter
Led by: Steve Sobeck, Visiting Instructor of Art and Design
The course outlines the evolution of British ceramics and esthetic and technical developments brought to Britain from Rome, Northern Europe, Spain, and the Middle East, Italy and Asia. All had significant influence on British ceramics. The industrial revolution, which began in Britain, made Britain the largest producer of ceramic ware outside of China. The path from Peasant Potter, per 1600’s, to Industrial Potter, on to the Artist Studio Potter, is all recorded here.
KammerMusikere California Tour
Led by: Jeffrey Bell-Hanson, Associate Professor and Director of Orchestral Activities
PLU's chamber orchestra, KammerMusikere , directed by Jeffrey Bell Hanson, will travel to Northern and Central California this winter to perform in the cities of Oakland, Palo Alto, Monterey, Anaheim and Thousand Oaks. The ensemble numbers 31 musicians, including strings, winds and brass. They will offer a program of music related to the dance, from ballet to tango, and even a little-known American Polonaise by John Philip Sousa. If you're in the area, catch their performances at Grace Lutheran Church in Palo Alto on January 28, First Presbyterian church in Monterey on January 29 and the Samuelson Chapel at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks on February 1. Full tour details can be found here. Along with their full performance schedule, students will have a chance for sightseeing at the Stanford University campus and Disneyland.
Dialogue in Northern Ireland
Led by: Amanda Feller, Associate Professor of Communication
As a recent focus in the field of international conflict management/peace building, intercommunity dialogue has become integral to achieving peace in deeply divided societies. This course will enable students to observe the results of successful dialogue processes directly from those applying it in Northern Ireland. They will also learn about causes of The Troubles and the post-agreement struggle for peace from those who directly experienced them.
Note: Given the sensitivity of what students are studying and from whom, the class does not maintain a blog.
PLU's chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, the national theatre honor society, presents its annual One-Act Festival from Thursday, January 23 through Saturday, January 25 at 7:30pm in the Studio Theater of the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
This year’s show, titled “Gone Mad, Will Return”, explores many styles of theatre with Naomi in the Living Room by Christopher Durang, directed by Jessi Marlow '16, Hamletmachine by Heiner Müller, directed by Amelia Heath '15, and [This Space Intentionally Left Blank] to be written by the cast and crew of [This Space Intentionally Left Blank], directed by David Gordon '14.
The students are challenged with this quick turnaround production – they audition, rehearse, open and close in about two and a half weeks.
"Two and a half weeks is a very short rehearsal period, and these are very challenging shows. But pressure makes diamonds," David Gordon, Director of [This Space Intentionally Left Blank], says.
Tickets are available at the door. Tickets are $5 general admission and $3 for PLU students. Thursday, January 23 is a student preview, students (non-PLU included) get in free with Student ID.
PLU is presenting a special one-night-only benefit concert by opera star and PLU alumna Angela Meade on Saturday, January 18.
In Saturday's concert, Meade will perform in memory of her mother; proceeds will help establish the Angela Meade Vocal Performance Scholarship at PLU.
Soprano Meade, who graduated from PLU in 2001, stars as Alice Ford in The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Verdi’s Falstaff and has performed in many of the world’s preeminent opera houses and festivals. She is the recipient of opera’s most prestigious honors, having won The Metropolitan Opera’s 2012 Beverly Sills Artist Award, the 2011 Richard Tucker Award, Vienna’s prestigious Belvedere Competition and more. In May, Meade was named Artist of the Year by the Washington National Opera.
Since her professional debut in 2008, Meade quickly has become recognized as one of the outstanding vocalists of her generation. The New Yorker raved, “Meade is astounding … She has exceptional dynamic control, able to move from floating pianissimos to sudden dramatic swells. … She is a very musical singer, naturally and intelligently riding the phrase.”
Event date and time: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 18, 2014.
Location: Lagerquist Concert Hall in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center at PLU, 12180 Park Avenue S., Tacoma.
Tickets: $50 general/$25 PLU students (limit one); $100 tickets include a VIP champagne reception with Meade after the concert. Buy here.