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All classes are cancelled beginning at 3:00 pm today. Normal schedule will resume on Saturday.  

Kingwood Summer Opera presents “Carmen”

Music professionals, who have sung in the best opera houses around the world, will direct a talented cast at this year’s Kingwood Summer Opera performance of “Carmen.” 

The fully staged performance will be performed in English on July 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Lone Star College-Kingwood’s Performing Arts Theatre.

“Carmen” is directed by LSC-Kingwood adjunct professor of music Anne Heath-Welch, who sang lead roles in the United Kingdom and Europe for many years including London’s famous Covent Garden Opera House.  The music director and conductor is Richard Aslanian, retired head of the Opera Program at Baylor University, and now director of music at Strawbridge United Methodist Church in Kingwood.

“I decided to update Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ to 1939 and the end of the Spanish Civil War because the political climate at that time in Spain makes a good backdrop to the story,” Heath-Welch said. “This juxtaposition of the political climate of that time with the dramatic tale of Carmen and Don Josécreates an interesting take on the original story. The end result should be an enjoyable night of musical theater for the entire community.”

Most of the lead roles are double-cast in order to give as many talented singers an opportunity to perform.  For example, the title role of Carmen will be played by Kingwood resident Laura Nielsen, who was recently heard as the mother in the Kingwood Chorale’s version of “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”  Don Joséwill be played by tenor James Chamberlain, who just made his Houston Grand Opera debut in “Madame Butterfly.” Micaela will be played by Amanda Grooms, the 2010 winner of the Lois Alba Voice Competition.  The swashbuckling toreador Escamillo will be played by Joesph Bansuelo, assistant choir director at Montgomery High School.

The Kingwood Summer Opera began in 1996 with a small number of students and community members performing a few short operatic scenes in the atrium of a classroom building at LSC-Kingwood. There was no stage, minimal lights, and the costumes were of the “find your own” variety.  Fast forward 15 years to 2011 and one finds a very different scene.  Today, 40 singers (young professionals, college students, and community members) are mounting a very professional two-hour version of Bizet’s “Carmen” in a newly renovated theater with a two-story set, complete lighting design, and more than 100 different costumes.  The Kingwood Summer Opera now requires two stage directors, a technical director, a musical director and several coach-accompanists to help the production succeed.

“It is a joy to see the growth of this program in numbers, quality, professionalism, and budget.  This allows the students involved to experience an opera production in all its labor-intensive glory and it also allows the public to be entertained at a very high level. It is a win-win for everyone,” said Dr. Todd Miller, Summer Opera founder and LSC-Kingwood music professor.

According to Miller, the program has grown so much that there is now a two-tier approach to the six-week experience.  The main stage, which is presenting “Carmen,” uses every singer, either in a named role or chorus, depending on experience.  For the beginning singer/actor, there is also a Young Artists Program (YAP) that gives each student individual attention on acting and singing on stage. They will present a separate short program on July 10 at 2 p.m. in LSC-Kingwood’s Performing Arts Theatre. The YAP is led by Shana Buckow-Hogan, a local singer and voice teacher who has sung professionally in Europe and in the United States.

Tickets to “Carmen” are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $5 for students. For more information on the tickets, the performances or on groups, call 281-312-1532.

Register now for credit classes online through myLoneStar.  Classes are offered days, evenings, or weekends in traditional, Internet, video, TV and independent study formats. For more information on how to register online, visit www.lonestar.edu/registration.

For general information about Lone Star College-Kingwood, call 281-312-1600 or visit http://lonestar.edu/kingwood.htm

With more than 69,000 students in credit classes for spring 2011, and a total enrollment of more than 85,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Park, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit www.LoneStar.edu.