Opera always blooms at Mason, but for one spring evening its astounding beauty reached its peak.
Professor Patricia Miller, the director of vocal studies at George Mason University (GMU), and Dr. Dennis Layendecker, director of the School of Music, decided to try a wonderful experiment for the "Evening of Great Opera Choruses, Arias and Ensembles” show on April 26.
Their first step was to enlist Dr. Stan Engebretson and Dr. Lisa Billingham, both directors of GMU’s elite choral groups.
When artists put their heads together, amazing results can happen. Opera Blooms at Mason! was their inspiration. The event showcased their students’ talents with works by Mozart, Verdi, Bizet, Mascagni, Strauss and Puccini.
Orchestras at universities do not always have the opportunity to play in “the pit” -- in other words, to accompany singers and solo instrumentalists. For this event, the Chamber Orchestra performed under the direction of Dr. Layendecker. In addition, he conducted Professor Miller’s soloists, Dr. Engebretson’s University Singers and members of Dr. Billingham’s University Chorale.
Coordination among approximately 125 students, four conductors, 10 other professional stage managers, vocal coaches, and production managers might be somewhat problematic, but for GMU’s musicians, it was not an insurmountable challenge.
Fairfax Station resident Dr. James Bennett commented that the concert was “nothing less than an opera lover's delight.”
Bennett continued his praise. “The opera ensemble performed flawlessly and with energy and intensity. The program was opened by the overture to Strauss’ well-loved opera, Die Fledermaus, which set the stage for a marvelous evening.”
After listening to the Chamber Orchestra’s performance, the audience was then delighted by the talented vocalists.
The arias, noted Dr. Bennett, “were uniformly received with rousing applause.”
The University Singers and Chorale had a major role in the concert, providing the choruses that are vital to operas.
“No one who loves either classical music or opera should miss such affordable and convenient performances,” Bennett said.
To see a full list of upcoming GMU performances, visit their website.