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Non-Traditional Opera To Premiere At SHSU

By Teddi Cliett, SHSU College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication

A realtor, origami designer and combat photographer walk into a bar. They all represent some greater life struggle like heartbreak or anxiety, and they’re all looking for love.

In the upcoming opera, “Speed Dating Tonight!,” written by Michael Ching and presented by Sam Houston State University’s School of Music opera program, audiences are exposed to what happens when a group of people from all different walks of life come together for a common goal at a speed dating social.

“This opera encompasses all of the scary things that happen in life, especially dating and finding love,” said sophomore Elissa Weeden, who plays Kaylee the Coordinator in the production.

Productions of “Speed Dating Tonight!” will be on Friday (March 3) and Saturday (March 4) at 7:30 p.m. in the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center.

According to Weeden, “Speed Dating Tonight!” is different from traditional operas because the characters are extremely relatable, not only to the audience but to the cast members themselves.

“The most challenging thing about this opera is that it is not a traditional opera where you can transform into a specific character that could be nothing like you,” Weeden said. “You are cast mostly based on personality and how you already are as a person. It is very strange and challenging to go on stage knowing that one of the main things you have to do as a performer is be yourself.”

Weeden even said that the characters challenge the cast members to discover more about themselves as individuals.

“This cast is very unique,” she said. “Similar to the characters in the opera, we are all at different places in our life. This opera is, in a way, helping each one of us discover more of who we are as people. I love seeing each of the cast members grow as performers and individuals.”

“Speed Dating Tonight!” is a comic opera in one act, and was commissioned and premiered in 2013 by the Janiec Opera of the Brevard Music Center. Composer Michael Ching supplied his own libretto for the piece, and the opera has been written to be adapted for varying numbers of singers, voice types, gender ratios, and length of time, by cutting, re-ordering, or transposing the keys of the vignettes. This opera is aleatoric in form, in that the final presentation of the work is left up to the artists performing it.

Tickets to “Speed Dating Tonight!” can be purchased online at shsu.edu/boxoffice.

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