WWU students to perform opera at Blaine PAC

Published on Thu, May 21, 2009
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By Grace Jackson

If you thought that you had to live in New York City and be fluent in Italian to enjoy the opera, think again. 

On Tuesday, May 26, students from the music department at Western Washington University will perform an opera based on “The Ugly Duckling,” a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen.

The performance is free and begins at 10 a.m. in Blaine’s Performing Arts Center.  In addition to the students of Blaine elementary school, all members of Blaine’s community are invited to attend. 

“Opera is the most amazing art form,” said David Meyer, assistant professor of music at Western Washington University. Opera tells stories and communicates emotion and passion through music.

 “Most people have preconceived notions that opera is ‘hoity-toity’ and full of pretension, but that’s not so,” said Meyer.  “At some point, emotions surpass what can be communicated through words, and that’s where opera comes in.” 

“The Ugly Duckling” tells the story of how a hatchling is born so deformed and uncoordinated that he is shunned by his siblings and other farmyard creatures. During a complex and solitary journey, the duckling faces bullying, loneliness and fear. At the end of the story, the awkward duck shockingly matures into a beautiful, graceful swan.

Lessons found in the story are universal and timeless: Always believe in yourself and beauty is in the eye of the beholder and skin deep. Judging someone based on how they look is not the best way to determine a person’s character or inner worth.

The performance is part of Western’s Opera in the Schools program, whose mission is to present live opera to kindergarten through high school students while providing WWU students with creative and intellectual tools necessary for success in the arts.  Through high quality operatic performances, the program’s vision is to inspire lifelong relationships with the performing arts, said Meyer.  

The program also has short and long range objectives that include strengthening relationships with local middle and high school music programs through clinics and competitions. 

The group also hopes to establish partnerships with local arts organizations to increase audience participation of the Opera in the Schools program. 

Deanna Davis, soprano and a nominee of Western’s outstanding graduating senior, constructed the rendition of “The Ugly Duckling” opera and will be the narrator for the performance. A bassist will join the string quartet for the musical backdrop.  The actual performance lasts 20 minutes with time reserved at the end for the audience to ask questions of the student performers.  

“We hope that students will realize that stories can be told in a way they may not have thought of before: Through singing and music,” Meyer said. 

If you go
Date:  Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Time:  10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
Location:  Blaine Performing Arts Center
Cost:  Free