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Opera Ensemble Presents Mozart’s ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’

UNF Opera students perform ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ during the Opera summer program in the Czech Republic.
Photo courtesy of the UNF music department

Since its introduction in 1972, the UNF music department has grown into one of the most recognized college music programs in the U.S.

It was not until 2007, however, that The Music Flagship Program at UNF had an opera ensemble in its music department.

The UNF opera ensemble was founded after Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki was appointed as the Head of Applied Voice.

Since then, UNF’s opera ensemble has performed several famous operas such as Henry Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas, which was the first complete opera ever performed at UNF.

Biernacki also established the UNF Opera summer program in the Czech Republic. This program gives students in the music department a chance to partake in a summer opera program at the European Music Academy in Teplice, Czech Republic.

The European Music Academy allows students from around the world to gain experience through the instruction of international faculty, practicing and performing operatic works, and doing all this in a professional environment.

Biernacki said the program for this upcoming year will be the ensemble’s fourth consecutive year  going to the Czech Republic and taking part in the summer opera program.

Dr. Biernacki
Photo by Zach Sweat

“This is a program specifically designed for UNF students to study in Europe and in a professional European opera environment where they work in an opera house for a full month.” Biernacki said.

During their last trip to the Czech Republic during the summer 2012 semester, the UNF opera ensemble performed Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte alongside students from the University of British Columbia.

Cosi Fan Tutte is one of the last operas Mozart wrote before his death. The title is Italian and translates to “They All Do It”.

Cosi Fan Tutte is Mozart’s comic opera They All Do It, they meaning women,” Biernacki said. “Women are fickle, unfaithful, etc. The subtitle to the [opera] is The School For Lovers.

Claire LeGrand, a classical voice performance senior, was one of the UNF students who ventured to the Czech Republic and took part in the opera.

LeGrand said Biernacki is a great director who always has experiences to share from his own performances in the past to help opera students.

When LeGrand is working with him, she said it is always an amazing experience.

“He has a lot of input and ideas that students would never think about,” she said.

UNF students like LeGrand performed the entire production in Italian while English subtitles were being projected above the stage throughout the opera.

Biernacki said the production went fantastically well in the Czech Republic and had both strong critical and audience acclaim.

The strongest responses from the European audience came from the wonderful costumes, a very good orchestra, strong cast and crew and thoughtful preparation, he said.

“It was fun. It took four weeks to put together, but students took to it beautifully and we really had a fantastic summer,” Biernacki said.

The opera ensemble, which is composed entirely of UNF undergraduate voice majors, will perform this famous Mozart opera four times this fall from Nov. 9-12. The performaces will be free for all UNF students and will be $18 for all non-students.

Last year, budget troubles for the opera ensemble forced the team to perform a limited-production of The Mikado, meaning that the ensemble had to do without onstage props and costumes.

Biernacki said the group has now bounced back and is ready to launch another full-production opera for Ospreys to enjoy.

“This year we are going for a full-production, full sets, full costumes, [etc.],” he said. “We had a much better year financially, [because of] a very generous donor who donated a little bit of money to us. [We] established a bit of a budget and made money from ticket sales.”

The ensemble plans to perform the opera in the same fashion as they did in the Czech Republic, only this time, they will perform in UNF’s 700 seat Andrew A. Robinson Jr. Theater with Biernacki directing the performance.

“Opera is such a unique art form,” Biernacki said. “In Jacksonville, we do not have a professional opera company, [only] traveling shows through FSCJ, so this is one of the few opportunities that students can see an authentic real opera production done in original language with a full-production, sets and costumes in a real theater done by aspiring young singers.”

Email Zach Sweat at reporter11@unfspinnaker.com

The Opera Ensemble will perform “Cosi Fan Tutte” in the Robinson Theater Nov. 9-12. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday, and 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are free for UNF students with ID, or $18. To purchase tickets, call the box office at (904) 620-2878 or click here. 

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