Summer Scene Recital Ends on High Notes

Jacklyn Nowotnik, Managing Editor


Photo by Jacklyn Nowotnik

For the first time ever, the Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) music department featured a summer opera scene recital. Scenes included full-sung Italian pieces by Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. NEIU faculty member and director, Sasha Gerritson felt that it is “important for students to have a safe, constructive learning environment that challenges them where they are today and encourages them to grow towards the singer/actor they aspire to be.” As a way of doing so, the NEIU music department has established a production schedule that alternates between a modern opera sung in English, a modern musical theatre piece, a standard opera piece sung in its original language, and a standard musical theatre piece. In between bigger productions, the music department works with Gerritson and the students enrolled in her performance class to put on scene recitals, which the department feels adds to their students’ musical experience.

Since scene recitals are not one of the four bigger productions, the recitals are performed with minimal stage furniture and props. The recitals also lack the participation of an orchestra, as well as the supertitles that most operas have on top of the stage to translate the sung language. The scene recitals at NEIU do include full costume, piano accompaniment by NEIU music faculty and a student narrator.

Unlike past scene recitals, this opera scene recital had a select few undergraduates and graduates in the music department set as cast members. These students also worked with Lucia Marchi, an Italian diction coach. Before the show, Gerritson mentioned that this scene recital would be a great way for students to gain experience in performance and singing in Italian.

A couple of familiar names in the program included Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) and Verdi’s La Traviata (The Fallen Woman). If the big names were not enough, a scene even had a performance by former NEIU Music Professor Ronald Combs. NEIU’s music department has not yet announced what their spring musical theatre production will be, but they do welcome fellow faculty and students to attend their annual fall scene recital in November.