By Danyel Pindexter, Staff Writer
The saying goes, life is a test. Apparently, opera is no exception.
On December 1 at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Stella Markou brought opera once again to the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center through a free performance showcasing the stages, appearances, and concepts of love. Acting as both director and narrator of the production, Dr. Markou informed the audience at the beginning of the ensemble, that, while it was a show for us, this performance was also a test for the students — a test which many would agree after the various applause from the night’s performance the performers passed with flying colors.
Before the individual performances are introduced, however, one must first thank the pianist, Donna Pyron, for constantly keeping a steady hand at the piano. She flawlessly complimented the students’ performances and brought a professional air to the atmosphere while never losing a beat.
It is common knowledge that, as it pertains to love, there are ups and downs that people must endure to move on. Unfortunately, that aspect also includes driving through the stage of isolation and destitution, a stage veraciously performed by Cory Frank, year, major, through the piece “Lonely House” by Kurt Weill, which opened the concert. Frank combined his talent for singing with his talent for acting, allowing his voice to be the guide for his physical emotions. In fact, each piece performed by these student not only held a quality of strong, willing voices, but captured their emotional turmoil and delight through the movement of hands, stomping of feet, and wringing of faces.
Shortly after, he was followed by the embodiment of love itself, presented by Valencia Branch, year, major, singing soprano for Christoph Willibald Gluck’s “Gli squardi trattieni.” This piece was an admirable compliment to the one before it, showing that while loneliness may come with the consequence of love, it is best to heed warning signs that may stop you before it is too late. This warning or trouble of love was very adamant in many other performances like the famous piece from “Carmen,” “Pres des remparts de Seville,” sung by Kayla Schieffer, year, major, a mezzo-soprano.
While it would be ideal to touch on every performance that occurred during that night, space and time do not allow it. What is best to note is the unifying piece of both music and singing. Though the performances were a simple test to the students, per the positive expressions produced throughout the crowd, it was evident that not a moment in the concert went by that didn’t leave the audience in awe. For such a small group of performers, they made a vigorous mark to be remembered. It is quite difficult to explain the feeling of reverence left on the soul when one hears such demanding voices portraying a sense of emotion through various scenarios. It is difficult to explain how these voices beautifully transformed from moments of high feathery pitches to low alluring harmony. This concert exquisitely divided its serious moments with its moments of pure bliss and entertainment. The stories told through opera were never confused and kept a linear timeline of progression through the stages of love.
As a final act, Dr. Stello Markou led her students in a mix of opera and hip-hop. It was a fun yet interactive way to showcase the harmony between students and teacher while giving the audience a vibrant feeling to end the night on.