Graduate student Patricia Westley performs the lead female role.
“I believe Adina’s fickle nature is perfectly illustrated in the music Donizetti wrote for her,” Westley said. “Adina’s melody seamlessly vacillates between feisty and peppery and then transforms into her beautiful luscious lines of unmistakable bel canto.”
The part has been a true learning experience for the Santa Barbara, Calif., native.
“I’ve loved getting this chance to play Adina. Her transformation from a young, flirtatious tease into a mature woman who shows a true capacity for deep love has been such a fascinating discovery for me,” Westley said. “Finding the exact moments in the music where this switch happens has been a wonderful dramatic challenge.”
Shames said the choices of which operas to produce are based almost entirely on student capabilities and what will benefit them most in terms of artistic growth. The many young voices are assessed for optimum levels of maturity and whether they’re right for certain operatic parts. This process may begin as much as 18 months in advance.
The five principle roles have been double-cast, Shames said. The cast includes a chorus of 23 and some silent actors. The large chorus’ task will be to fully express the boisterous, interested and highly opinionated community’s vitality. Their aural observations reflect on Nemorino and Adina fitting into local society. The set will create the illusion of a beautiful Italian courtyard.
“We’ve been developing our opera chorus for several years and we’re just delighted with it,” Shames said, proudly. “It’s now really part of the choral program. It’s a credit course and we’re just thrilled with it.”
Part of his teaching mission is for students to learn and fully understand the relationship of the orchestra to the voice, as well as the theater to the voice. He also stresses that staging is a factor.