Opera on a Friday evening – Date Night?!! Yes, “An Evening of Mozart” in John L. Hill Chapel on March 4 is not a misprint.
Georgetown College voice professor Heather Hunnicutt will tell anyone that Friday is the BEST night for music. And, as one-fifth of Opera Appalachia – the new group that will entertain, she said “Mozart would tell you that dinner and a concert is the world’s best date!” The free performance isn’t until 8 p.m., so you’re on your own for supper – but leave room for some operatic treats.
“An Evening of Mozart” is the seventh and next-to-last event in “Noteworthy: A Faculty and Guest Artist Concert Series” that Hunnicutt launched in September. The series finale is March 23 at 8 p.m. as tenor David Sievers and pianist John Benjamin combine on “Die schöne Müllerin,” one of the most widely-performed and beloved cycles of German Lieder from the Romantic period.
Hunnicutt, who’s made opera a big part of Georgetown College’s performing arts scene, is excited to bring Opera Appalachia – an ensemble of regional opera singers – to campus for its central Kentucky debut of staged presentations of some of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most beloved works.
Opera Appalachia is a group of five professional singers (one of each solo voice part – soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone and bass) with the goal of bringing professional, quality opera to populations that don’t typically have access to it. Hunnicutt said, “We want to share our love of the exceptional art form of opera with the whole world, starting with those who have never experienced it before.”
Four members of the group – Hunnicutt, Daniel Bell, Ryland Pope and David Herrington met when they were all cast together in the Highlands Light Opera production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of enzance” two summers ago. This past summer, they wanted to add a mezzo-soprano for a dinner concert in Harlan and Pope had the answer in fellow Harlan native Marybeth Christman.
Dr. Hunnicutt is especially proud of Ryland Pope ’09, her former student. “He’s an exceptional singer, performer and person,” she said. “It is so much fun to perform with him, too! And, he is so proud of his home and the Appalachian culture that this group is very close to his heart as well.”
Hunnicutt predicts Georgetown audiences will recognize Daniel Bell from a couple of performances and master-classes he has given on campus, such as “Broadway Love Songs” this past fall. She said, “His charm just exudes from the stage to the audience.”
Marybeth hristman, she said, “has a beautiful, full, rich mezzo-soprano voice and we have the best time taunting each other as Susanna and Marcellina in the opening duet (from ‘Le Nozze di Figaro”). Later, Ryland tries (and succeeds) to woo her in ‘La ci darem la mano’ from ‘Don Giovanni’.”
Of David Herrington, she said, “True basses are rare…most lower-voiced men are actually some form of baritone, or even a bass-baritone. He’ll be hitting notes in the concert that you didn’t even think were possible in a human voice!”
The group will be accompanied on piano by a Music Department mainstay of the past couple of years, Georgetown native Daniel Ng, who graduated in December.
Hunnicutt promises “An Evening of Mozart” will be a fun, casual, drama-driven concert.. “The group will be wearing 18th century clothing so the audience can feel like they are right there in Mozart’s time,” she said. “We will talk to the audience, set up the scenes, interact with audience members, interact with each other, and present dramatic depictions of the arias and duets. This is NOT just a ‘stand and sing in a formal wear’ concert!”