The OU School of Music and University Theatre will present “A Grand Evening of Opera Arias: Songs of Hope” as a return to the stage for many of the performers involved.
The production will include arias written by renowned composers such as Carlisle Floyd and Douglas Moore, according to a press release. Songs include “Ain’t it a Pretty Night” from “Susannah,” and “Ruhe Sanft” from “Zaïde,” among others. Singers will be accompanied by a live pianist.
Claire Robinson, master’s of music and opera performance second year student, said due to COVID-19, the rehearsal process for this show differs from her previous experiences.
“(The rehearsal process) has been less rehearsing and more one-on-one time, and it's been purely over Zoom,” Robinson said.
OU's Jonathan Shames, Opera Theater artistic director and conductor, said they have adapted rehearsals to accommodate to follow COVID-19 recommendations and to keep the performers safe.
“The online experience is becoming familiar to all of us,” Shames said. “It presents difficulties, of course, but with attention and imagination, we are making this work.”
Robinson said Zoom rehearsals have included character work and individualized attention from the directors and conductors.
“It’s been a lot different, because there's a lot of individual time that we don't typically get in normal productions, which has actually been really great,” Robinson said.
While these virtual rehearsals have allowed more one-on-one attention for each performer, Robinson said there have also been various technical issues.
“There's just some things that don't translate well over Zoom that you can do in person,” Robinson said. “As soon as you sing high enough, some of the audio will cut out. It’s hard to get a good sense of what the sound really sounds like.”
Shames said the performers will take certain precautions in accordance with OU’s COVID-19 safety recommendations.
The staging has allowed for more space than usual between the singers and the pianist. The singers have also been directed to take specific routes to allow for proper air circulation.
“Songs of Hope” will be Robinson’s first performance opportunity since March. She said she is very excited to share this experience with other people.
“I think this pandemic has been extremely isolating,” Robinson said. “We haven't been able to enjoy some of those social interactions as much. I’m really excited to be able to see people and interact with them again, even if it is masked and distanced.”
Robinson said this performance is meant to inspire hope and bring joy to those watching.
“I just don't think there's a better feeling than being able to participate in an audience setting,” Robinson said. “I think it's so thrilling to be able to be in a room where art is being made, whether that is music, or dance or theater. I think that’s one of the most inclusive things we can do with each other.”
“Songs of Hope” will be performed at 8 p.m. Oct. 16 and 17 at the Reynolds Performing Arts Center. Seating will be limited due to social distancing requirements, and audience members will be required to wear masks, according to the release
Advance tickets range from $10 to $20 with discount tickets available for OU employees and students, seniors and military personnel, and tickets at the door are $30 for adults and $15 for students.