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MET opera broadcasts come back to Harris Cinema

By Hallela Hinton-Williams

Through the MET opera broadcast, the College gives students an opportunity to appreciate an art form often overlooked by younger generations.

Before each broadcast is a twenty minute presentation about the opera. Randye Jones, Burling Media Room Supervisor and a singer herself, as well as several other people on campus, have shared and analyzed different aspects of opera before it is aired. Topics have varied from the nature of opera and character analysis to the techniques of the actors and singers.

During last week’s presentation, Jones shared an analysis of the character Scarpia in the opera Tosca by Giacomo Puccini.

“Scarpia is the ‘bad guy’ in the opera. It’s a very demanding role,” Jones said. “You have to not only sing the challenging role but also be a very dynamic actor. Someone who can carry the weight of being evil without … letting it overwhelm you. I wanted to talk about what had made him the character he was.”

At the broadcasts, students, faculty and community members can all gain an appreciation of the art of opera. The demanding behind-the-scenes work that is put into a performance is apparent in the broadcast.

“It gives the campus and the community as a whole the opportunity to hear some wonderful performances,” Jones said. “But also, if [students] wish [to] hear some wonderful singing, if they’re theatre people, they can see the staging that goes on, see the costumers. They interview people across the industry.”

By viewing the MET opera broadcasts, the community is also privy to a continually diversifying culture of opera.

“Opera is beginning to realize that the country, the world really, is expanding and they have to start looking at a wider range of musical experiences and bringing those things in,” Jones explained.

Jones hopes to see more students taking advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the artistry of opera.

“I would love to see a higher student attendance. There [are] so many elements that goes into the presentation of an opera. Since the College is sponsoring the broadcast, [students] don’t have to pay anything, all they have to do is show their student ID,” Jones said.

Opera cannot be defined as an exemplar of classical music, as operas can bend genres and global experiences. Jones suggests first stepping into the world of opera by finding a contemporary one that may not feel so foreign.

“If you’re new to opera I would suggest not going to a Wagner opera, or something that is going to be really drawn out and very involved, in a style of music that you don’t like. There’s a wide range of music, and there are contemporary operas that are coming out that use elements that are more familiar,” Jones revealed.

The next opera broadcast is “The Elixir of Love” on Saturday, Feb. 10. It serves as a good introduction for someone unfamiliar with opera.

“My hope is that students will give themselves the opportunity to experience opera,” Jones said. “I hope they will consider how they can not only appreciate the wonderful dramatic works that already exist, but how they can introduce fresh ideas that will make opera relevant to today’s and tomorrow’s audiences.”

Jones’ hope for Grinnell students echoes the hopes of producers, viewers and lovers of opera.

“If you can sit down and enjoy the music for a few minutes, you can hear things that have carried over for centuries.”

“The Elixir of Love” will be broadcasted on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Harris Cinema. Contributed.
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