The Opera Comes to Kingwood

Published on: June 19, 2008

Bringing three very different operas to the stage of Lone Star College-Kingwood is a labor of love for Dr. Todd Miller, professor of music at LSC-Kingwood and producing director of the workshop.  With over thirty participants, this year's summer opera workshop will be the largest cast in the thirteen-year history of the program.

"It's a wonderfully diverse group of people, in terms of age, ability, and experience," said Miller.  "We have music majors from several colleges, including Lamar, University of Houston, Sam Houston State, Texas Christian University and Vanderbilt, in addition to our own Lone Star College System students.  Several talented community members, many of whom have music degrees, are participating for the sheer joy of being a part of this magnificent and difficult art form."  Several local high school students are also getting a jump start on their music careers by participating.

Performances will be held on Saturday, July 12 and Sunday, July 13.  This year's operatic selections will all be sung in English.   "This will be a great introduction to the opera for area residents who previously have steered away from the opera because they didn't know which opera to see, but also be a treat for those who already love the opera," said Miller.

The first opera is Sour Angelica (Sister Angelica) by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini.  This fifty-minute one act opera features former LSC-Kingwood student Blair Doerge, who will sing the title role.  Doerge is from New Caney and is finishing up her music degree at Sam Houston State University.  She recently won the regional NATS singing competition, and was a finalist in the Lois Alba voice competition.  The opera takes place in a convent in Italy in the 17th Century.  Angelica, of noble birth, was forced into a convent because she bore a child out of wedlock, thus disgracing the family.  After seven years, her Aunt (community member Beth Higgins) visits her to ask Angelica to sign papers to give up her inheritance to her sister and coldly tells her that her child is dead.  Distraught, Angelica drinks poison in order to join her son, but immediately realizes she has committed a mortal sin.  "This is an opera that will touch the heart of any parent.  It's very emotional," said Miller.

After a brief intermission, a reduced version of Act II of Mozart's popular Magic Flute will begin.  This is the fantastical tale of mythical lands of magic objects and the triumph of love and virtue.  For this production the opera will have the look of late 60's and early 70's.  "Great music, costumes, comedy and some fine young singers make this an enjoyable show for the entire family," said Miller.

The evening will wrap up with the great Viennese party scene from Act II of Johann Strauss' operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat).  Tuxedos, evening gowns, beautiful waltzes and romantic shenanigans bring a light and entertaining end to the opera workshop.

Humble native, Shana Buckow, will direct The Bat.  "She's a very talented singer and voice teacher in the area.  She has sung opera in Germany and been involved with the workshops from the beginning.  I'm happy to have her," said Miller.  

Miller promises audience members a great experience.  "I'm very proud of this workshop.  Our theatre is small, so the performance will be very intimate, but the costumes and sets are fantastic and the performers are top notch."

The summer opera workshop will take place in the Student Center/Fine Arts Building performing arts theatre on Saturday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 13 at 2:30 p.m.  Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $5 for students.  For more information, call Dr. Miller at 281-312-1485.

For general information about Lone Star College-Kingwood, call 281-312-1600 or visit Kingwood.LoneStar.edu.

Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including Cy-Fair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and the Lone Star College-University Center. With 49,250 students, it is the largest college system in the Houston area, and third largest community college district in Texas. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.