Drama, comedy on tap for NAU Opera

Opera performance

NAU Opera will channel Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium and The Old Maidand the Thief beginning at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4 and 2 p.m. Nov. 5 in Ardrey Auditorium.

Ticket prices range from $5 to $10 and are available by calling (928) 523-5661. The NAU Opera production will be staged with two pianos for The Medium and one piano for The Old Maid and the Thief. A 45-minute lecture will be given by NAU Opera director Nando Schellen before each performance.

Guest artist Scott Voyles, former conductor of the International Ensemble Modern Academy at the Klangspuren Festspiele 2006 in Austria, will conduct the two operas.

Twenty vocal performance majors will be featured in the performances. “We have amazing talent,” Schellen said. “The School of Music’s voice division has been growing immensely in the last seven to eight years.”

Menotti is considered the most popular American opera composer alive. “Menotti’s music is easy to understand, it is easily accessible,” Schellen said.

The Medium, adapted into a film noir after it premiered in 1946, is a story of séances and cheating. Menotti originally scripted The Old Maid and the Thief for radio in 1939. It was Menotti’s first opera written in English.

“It is an ironic comedy of two women who are in dire need of a man,” Schellen said. “When they finally find one, they go strange ways in order to keep him.”

Having been written for radio, The Old Maid and the Thief presents special challenges and a creative acting approach for a live performance. “Despite the challenges, the students have been enjoying themselves immensely,” Schellen said.