The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Opera in Iowa

This Saturday at noon, The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series will begin with the first of six operas to be screened in Harris over the course of the semester. Grinnell began showing operas in the Spring of 2012 when President Raynard Kington, an opera lover, suggested bringing the series to Grinnell. Rachel Bly ’93, the Director of Conference Operations and Events, who planned the series, is most excited for “Rusalka,” which stars the famous opera singer Renée Fleming, who sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl this year.

Bly also enjoys the pre-show talks, which she believes “make the opera more accessible.” The talks are led by professors or staff members who are knowledgeable about the show or the composer. During these talks, they discuss aspects of the opera, such as the plot, the singers or the conductor.

Antoinette Cudney ’16 is a big fan of the series.

“It really blew me away,” Cudney said. “Sometimes the singers will just captivate you. It’s just so emotional when they are hitting that beautiful note that just stretches on and on forever.”

Cudney, who enjoys listening to musicals and symphonies, decided last year to attend her first opera and quickly became addicted. She is excited for the upcoming series, especially “La Bohème,” which tells the stories of several young lovers, and served as the inspiration for the storyline of the musical “Rent.”

The opera series offers a unique experience to the College and the community.

“It’s something that we, as Midwesterners, aren’t really exposed to,” said Teresa McCall, the Event Coordinator at Conference Ops. “It’s a chance for culture—a different kind of culture, that we don’t necessarily experience here.”

The opera series has brought a lot of people to the campus who do not ordinarily attend campus events.

“I see a lot of the elderly people go on dates to the opera. They’ll buy their fruit and cheese, and it’s like their day out,” Cudney said.

Bly hopes that these people will feel more welcome to attend future campus events as well.

“It gives them a different sense of campus, I think, so once they’ve gone, they feel more free to come to other things,” Bly said.

Each opera begins at noon, with the opera talk at 11:30 a.m., and they generally last two to three hours. The opera experience comes highly recommended from Cudney and Bly.

“I think people know more of the stories than they realize; I mean, the operas tell the stories that have been mirrored in movies and books. To see the stories coming alive is really pretty amazing,” Bly said.

“It’s wonderful acting, it’s wonderful singing. I don’t know what’s not to like,” Cudney said.

In addition to the screened opera series, the Des Moines Opera is coming to Grinnell to perform “The Elixir of Love” in the Robert’s Theater next week. This opera is about a man named Nemorina, who hopes to win the love of a beautiful woman named Adina by drinking an “elixir of love,” which may or may not actually be a bottle of Bordeaux. The performance will take place on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and last about 90 min.

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