Celebrating their centennial, pair of operas coming to UWSP stage

For the Metro Wire

On the 100th anniversary of their debut, a pair of operas by Puccini will be performed at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in April.

“Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi” will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, by students in the Music Department’s annual Opera Workshop. Performances will be held in Michelsen Hall at the Noel Fine Arts Center.

Originally performed in Italian, both operas will be sung in English.

The two operas are part of a trilogy, said director and producer Matthew Markham. “Suor Angelica” is a heartbreaking tale of motherhood denied. “Gianni Schicchi” is a hilarious tale of how far a family will go to inherit riches.

“Suor Angelica” is set in a convent. Opera Workshop participants toured the Sisters of Saint Joseph convent in Stevens Point to learn more about Catholicism and nuns’ rituals. To thank the sisters, the cast will perform “Suor Angelica” in the convent chapel on April 18. Pacelli High School students and the Continuing Education LIFE program also have been invited.

“It’s going to be a phenomenal community outreach event. It will enrich the students’ experience to perform at the chapel,” Markham said.

“Gianni Schicchi” will be set in 1920s Wisconsin, with several quirky additions and cameo appearances by two local residents.

Nearly 40 student singers will participate in the pair of operas, and others are involved in staging and lighting. Kristin Ditlow of the University of New Mexico will be guest music director for the production, playing piano and coaching singers. She and Markham have collaborated on opera performances at UW-Stevens Point in the past.

Tickets are $19 for adults, $18 for seniors, $14 for youth and $10 for students with a UW-Stevens Point I.D. They may be purchased through University Information and Tickets in the Dreyfus University Center Concourse, by calling 715-346-4100 or at http://tickets.uwsp.edu.