By Mandi LeCompte
There will be high notes and high kicks as you travel to the depths of the dark underground this November at Pacific Lutheran University. PLU’s opera program will perform Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld for four performances on the Karen Hille Phillips Mainstage: November 19, 20 and 21 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 22 at 3pm.
In this madcap re-envisioning of the classic take of Orpheus and Eurydice, mythology is turned on its head. Offenbach’s work bubbles over with exuberance and humor and features the famous can-can.
“The comedy is very broad in this piece,” James Brown, director, comments. “Offenbach was spoofing the sacred treatment that mythology receives in opera libretti. I was inspired by his irreverence and chose to use icons from more recent history to represent the Gods of mythology. The audience should be prepared for a fun evening.”
The opera will be performed in English making it more accessible to the students performing it and the audience enjoying it.
What’s the secret to producing a great opera? Lots of homework, according to Brown.
“One must know the musical style, the background and direct translation of the librettos, along with the cultural environment in which the opera was premiered, and preparation for staging,” Brown explains. “Then the cast and the director arrive with ideas and plans, which primes for great collaboration in rehearsal.”
Brown tapped dance faculty member Ariella Brown and student dancers to bring the famous can-can to life, but other moments in the show required movement as well.
“We were blocking one scene, and I mentioned that we needed a dance step like Gladys Knight and the Pips,” Brown remembers. “Cassie Willock, one of our cast members, started doing exactly the step I had in mind. I exclaimed, ‘Exactly! Everyone do what Cassie is doing.’”
Tickets can be purchased through the PLU Campus Box Office at the Concierge desk in the Anderson University Center, on the phone at 253-535-7411, online and at the door. Tickets are $15 General Admission, $10 Senior Citizens (55+) and PLU Alumni, and $5 for PLU community, students, and 18 and under. Arrive 30 minutes early to enjoy concessions.