By: Bonnie Mulqueen, Contributing Writer
Dance and song will intertwine to tell the timeless tale of a forbidden love story at UNF.
UNF performers, along with a full symphony orchestra, will transform W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s most famous opera, “The Mikado,” into their very own concert performance.
Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki, head of applied voice and the opera director, said the production will be done in British-English and embedded with political satire and humor. There will be about 20 performers dressed in formal attire, with 40 instruments playing in the orchestra behind them.
He said the conductor and orchestra will be projected on a large, 6- by 10-foot screen at the back of the Lazzara, so students can look out at the audience and see the conductor while they are performing.
This is very different from how UNF’s productions are normally put together, he said. The productions in the past have been done with full sets and lavish costumes, with the orchestra playing in the pit.
Biernacki said the budget is a primary concern, and putting on a full set right now is too expensive. The opera will still have all the original music and acts, as well as a few props for the background.
The performers are undeterred by having to wear only formal attire and believe this will make the production highly imaginative to the audience and even more challenging for the cast.
“We’re still doing it with a full orchestra, so people on the outside can see we take this very seriously and bring the best show we can,” said Bryan Hayes, a UNF classical voice and classical jazz junior who has a part in the opera. “It is great to have a full opera, but with this kind of set-up, it will let the imagination run a bit wild.”
“The Mikado” is in the public domain, so UNF is not required to obtain performance rights or rent orchestra parts. The orchestra parts can be downloaded from the Internet, which saves a lot of money, Biernacki said.
Hannah Meloy, a UNF classical voice and classical jazz senior who is playing a part in the opera, said one of the special things about this opera being in the public domain is students have the ability to manipulate the production into their own by making modern references within the dialogue.
The cast is excited about performing “The Mikado” and feels it will embrace the public and bring culture to UNF students who know nothing about opera.
The production will include song and dance, as well as acting that emphasizes the story’s humor.
Meloy said “The Mikado” is unique because it is not strictly opera, a genre people would normally find intimidating and alienating. It’s not musical theater but a nice meeting point, she said.
This concert performance will bring diversity to UNF’s student body and is an excellent repertoire for young singers because it is very funny and approachable in terms of music, Biernacki said.
He said it’s not demanding for the voices — not very high or very low.
Biernacki said this production will be performed again in the fall with an elaborate Japanese set, along with crazy costumes and over-the-top make-up.
Biernacki established this ensemble five years ago from nothing, and this will be UNF’s ninth production since 2007.
Email Bonnie Mulqueen at [email protected]