Opera invades the Brewery Arts Center
Opera and musical theater co-existed Sunday afternoon at the Brewery Arts Center.
Carson Country performers played to a home crowd in scenes from Mozart’s opera “Cosi Fan Tutte” and scenes from contemporary musicals “Rent,” “Les Miserables,” ” The Scarlet Pimpernel,” “A Little Night Music” and “Weird Romance.”
It was the first time the University of Nevada, Reno Music Department took a road trip to Carson City with its Opera Theatre and Opera Workshop programs.
About a third of the performers appearing in the Saturday night and Sunday matinee showings of the opera/musical double bill are graduates from Carson, Dayton or Douglas high schools.
Three, in fact, graduated with the Class of 1997 at Carson High with two of them doubling up to play the same role. Maria Arrigotti played Despina the mischievous chambermaid in “Cosi” on Saturday and helped Anna Bierman with her costume to play the same role on Sunday.
“We’re buddies,” said Arrigotti, who will study at an opera workshop in Casalmaggiore, Italy, this summer.
Bierman enjoyed playing the chambermaid role that gets in the middle of a romantic foursome.
“It’s a high energy character and we can be silly,” Bierman said moments before taking to the stage. “I think it was typecast.”
Christina O’Neil’s studies have mostly concentrated on opera but she was making her debut in the musical realm for this production. Why the switchover?
“I just happened to be out of town during auditions,” O’Neil said, offering a “maybe, maybe not” when asked if she would have been cast in the opera had she been in town.
“I like the vocal challenge with opera and I like the emotions in musical theater,” said O’Neil, who played a prominent part in the choir program at Carson High but never made it into Karen Chandler’s large-scale musicals.
Jennifer Zabelsky, a 1999 Douglas graduate, also made the switch from opera to musical theater for this show. “Cosi” has only six roles and none suited Zabelsky voice.
“I have more of an operatic, classical voice, but I’ve been in musicals before. It’s a lot of fun,” said Zabelsky, who appeared in Douglas High productions of “Oklahoma” as Ado Annie and in “Fiddler on the Roof” as Hodel.
In the same production of “Oklahoma,” Nick Thomas, also a 1999 Douglas graduate, played Curly. His featured number on Sunday was “Stars” from “Les Miserables.”
Thomas is studying toward a music education degree so he can teach but he would like to continue performing beyond college.
Colleen Curran, a 1993 Dayton High graduate, has found a way to continue performing. She is an accounts manager for a Reno attorney but she found time to squeeze a musical theater class at UNR into her life.
“I do have a real job, but this is the love of my life,” Curran said. “I’m a little older than the others but I don’t feel older, that’s for sure.”
Curran especially enjoyed performing the “Les Miz” selections at the Brewery Arts Center.
“You get to be rotten and don’t have to sing pretty,” Curran said.
Curran also had the most to gain by bringing a UNR production to the BAC.
“I live right down the street,” she said.
Thomas’ and Zabelsky’s parents had a shorter drive to see the their children perform because of the BAC performances, but O’Neil’s parents won’t get to see their daughter until the April 27-28 repeat performances in Nightingale Hall at UNR.
“No,” O’Neil said when asked if her parents made it to either BAC show, “because my parents went on a cruise in Jamaica. They’ll see it later.”