By NATALIE SAYEWICH
The Daily Reflector
Friday, February 28, 2014
The opera “Idomeneo,” by itself, is a formidable opera to undertake in the seven weeks that had been allotted to prepare it. But because of some unplanned winter weather closings, the ECU Opera Theater has had to play catch-up.
The students involved, however, have dedicated their free time to rehearsing and director John Kramar is confident that the production will be a success as a result.
“We usually start back a week earlier, but we didn’t start rehearsal for this until the middle of January,” Kramar said. “It’s a big opera to do, especially on such short time — even if we hadn’t lost any time, it would have been a crunch, but the kids have been great. I said to them, ‘I love you, I trust you. The odds are against us, but I know you’re going to do all the work necessary. Whatever help you need, we’re here for you.”
The students have pulled together for the project, which has included evening practices in student apartments.
“This past weekend, most of our best kids went to a regional competition in Greensboro,” Kramar said. “Four or five of them won prizes, and after the winners were announced, four of the leads came up to me and said ‘we’re going to drive back early and we’re going to go through the staging in my apartment,’ and I was like, ‘great!’
“I think they know what has to be done.”
“Idomeneo” features music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and is based on the play “Idomenée” by Antoine Danchet. Kramar said he chooses the operas for the year based on the students at hand, and roles of “Idomeneo,” set in 1200 B.C. in Crete, fit his more advanced students.
“I always start with the students at hand and we had two very fine tenors and ‘Idomeneo’ is a tenor,” he said. “We’re a little short on lower male voices right now and this opera only has one, so it’s perfect for us. The ladies’ parts, we have all the perfect people for it.
“We tend to do Mozart here about every other year. I like the kids to do at least two of the important Mozart operas during their undergraduate time, so this was a Mozart year, because this was tenor-heavy, as opposed to bass-heavy, this was perfect for us.”
“Idomeneo” is about a father trying to avoid having to sacrifice his son, despite a promise he made to the god Neptune. The serious tone is a step away from the somewhat lighter Mozart operas that the ECU Opera Theater has performed in the past.
“The thing that is the most touching about this opera is this whole parent-child connection,” Kramar said. “Because Mozart was so close to his father, and his father created him to be this musical genius — he gave up his own career to devote it to his son’s career. It was really moving to Mozart and you can tell. All the scenes between the father and the son are so beautiful. I love the personal connection between Mozart’s own father and Idomeneo the father.”
Contact Natalie Sayewich at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9596.