Pillbox

Music students perform Mozart

Upon walking into Chosky Theater on Friday night for the second showing of Mozart Scenes: The Trials of Love, it was apparent that this show had been highly anticipated. It was a full house, filled with fellow students, some families, and School of Music faculty and staff. The production was split into three parts, each running about 50 minutes and separated by an intermission. The sets were simple, composed mostly of doors and windows with a few pieces of accent furniture.

The first part was Act II of Le Nozze di Figaro (“The Marriage of Figaro”). It was as if the audience had been taken back in time to the 18th century. All actors on the stage were in period costumes made of damask fabrics in rich colors. The audience was introduced to Countess Almaviva, who is upset that she has a jealous husband who doesn’t trust her or love her the way he used to.

The countess, played by senior voice major Rachael Long, was magnificent, able to convey a range of emotions while keeping the scene comical. Her husband, Count Almaviva, played by junior voice major Tyler Alderson, had an intense stage presence, conveying rage and anger so well that it was frightening.

The count comes home to find that there is someone hiding in his wife’s boudoir — her private bedroom — and instantly doubts her fidelity. While there was a young man — Cherubino, played by junior voice major Gillian Hassert — hiding in the closet, the countess was not cheating on her husband with him. The servant, Susanna, played by senior voice major Kristen Hahn, manages to save the day by convincing the count that she had been the one in the boudoir, and the count apologizes. Le Nozze di Figaro taught us that, in order to be forgiven, one must be willing to forgive others. However, the count threatens to hurt Cherubino the next time they cross paths.

The second part was Act I of Cosi fan tutte (“Women Are Like That”), also set in the 18th century. The act started with two young soldiers talking to an old man about their perfect girlfriends. The old man, Don Alfonso, played by senior voice major Hans Tashjian, counters all the talk of perfection with his opinion that all women play games of fleeting love. They make a bet: Don Alfonso bets that he can prove that the girls can move on quickly, and Ferrando and Guglielmo, played by junior voice majors Sean Pack and Piers Portfolio, bet that their girls will be nothing but perfect. The audience is then introduced to the two young women, who sing about their boyfriends with whom they are madly in love, only to find out a short while later that the boys will be deployed that very day, as part of Don Alfonso’s plan.

The maid in Cosi fan tutte is given the responsibility of not only preventing the girls from committing suicide but also introducing them to new boys. She is much like Don Alfonso, believing that men are useless. The maid, Despina, played by junior voice major Gaelyn Young, was a wonderful performer, and kept the audience laughing and captivated.

The last part of the show was Act II of Die Zauberflote (“The Magic Flute”). This act, while performed spectacularly well, felt a little out of place, especially because it resembled Harry Potter. The production was a more modern interpretation of the path to enlightenment. Tamino, played by senior voice major Corey Roberts, looked like Harry Potter while Papageno, played by junior voice major Piers Portfolio, was covered in feathers. The main god, Sarasto, played by senior voice major Hans Tashjian, resembled a character from the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Mikado and possessed a very powerful voice.

While the third part of the show seemed disconnected from the first two, they were all beautifully performed. The actors were well chosen and the sets were well thought out. It was clear after Friday’s night performance that the School of Music is cultivating some future stars.