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CMU Opera Workshop class presents The Aria: A Study of the Staged Solo

Course, concert allow students to learn the art of stagecraft

Canadian Mennonite University’s Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop is proud to present The Aria: A Study of the Staged Solo.

The concerts features more than 15 striking solo performances from more than 10 different opera and musical theatre productions.

Directed by CMU Instructor of Music David Klassen, the production runs for two shows: Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 PM and Friday, December 4 at 7:30 PM.

ariaThe performances will take place in the Laudamus Auditorium (500 Shaftesbury Blvd.). Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students, and available at the door. Tickets may also be reserved by calling 204-487-3300.

The show includes performances of “Dalla sua pace” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, “Caro nome” from Verdi’s Rigoletto, “Juliette’s Waltz” from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette, a handful of hits by Gilbert and Sullivan, and more.

Klassen is looking forward to seeing his 10 students perform.

“I’m always really, really proud of what it is they produce,” Klassen says. “My hope is that the audience comes along on the journey and can see their hard work.”

The Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop course is made available to students of all skill levels and gives them an understanding of the energy and effort required to communicate when performing operatic works.

“Every year I try to build something that fits the skill level and make up of the student body in the class,” says Klassen, who has taught the course for the past 10 years. “What I decided to do this year was take a stagecraft approach.”

That meant teaching the students stage skills such as directing and blocking. Each student is involved in at least three pieces: one they star in, one they direct, and one in which they portray a secondary character.

“What I really hope my students take with them is the confidence in their ability to understand and stage musical pieces on their own,” Klassen says.

The course is valuable because it empowers students to think for themselves about the pieces they are performing, says Nolan Kehler, a fourth-year Music student who has participated in the Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop each year he’s been at CMU.

“David asks questions like, ‘How is your character feeling in this scene?’ and ‘Why is your character moving the way he is?’” Kehler says. “All the questions make you think about what you’re doing on stage.”

CMU’s small student body gives students wishing to participate in Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop an advantage.

Larger universities typically draw from their graduate programs when staging productions like The Aria: A Study of the Staged Solo. At CMU, even non-music students are able to take the course.

Students in the course mount a full-scale production every second year, and present scenes from a variety of different works in the years in between.

“Alternating between a full production and scenes means more people get a chance to be a leading character and get into a leading character’s mindset,” Kehler says. “That kind of opportunity is pretty huge.”