The Kingwood Summer Opera (KSO) will be collaborating with talent from Houston’s top-drawer arts and music scene this month in two performances of the Richard Strauss’ masterpiece “Ariadne Auf Naxos.” The two-hour opera will be presented on Lone Star College-Kingwood’s recently remodeled Main Stage in the Performing Art Center, June 27 at 7:30 p.m. and June 29 at 2:30 p.m.
Theatre goers will especially enjoy the rich, sensual and beautiful music which includes lots of special vocal pyrotechnics. While professional level sopranos are attracted to the dramatic vocal grandeur of the title role, most opera apprentice programs, like the KSO, rarely undertake such a difficult performance.
“For the first time, the KSO will feature a live orchestra, comprised of Houston Grand Opera Orchestra members, and conducted by Thomas Jaber of the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University,” said Dr. Todd Miller, KSO producer and professor of music for LSC-Kingwood’s Performing Arts department. “We are honored to share this caliber of talent with the community.”
Miller said private house concerts were held in The Heights and in Kingwood to raise money for the orchestra fund, with Tom Jaber accompanying selected cast members in famous operatic arias. The PAC Main Stage has been updated with new seats and the entire stage has been raised two feet to give the appearance of a “Baroque” opera layout.
In “Ariadne Auf Naxos,” Strauss brings both comic and dramatic elements together, pitting highbrow and lowbrow entertainment against one another. The play-within-a-play theme takes place in “the house of the richest man in Vienna” as musicians prepare for a private house concert. Performances are in German with English surtitles projected above stage.
“Ariadne Auf Naxos” is staged by LSC-Kingwood music faculty members Anne Health-Welch, director and Gottfried Schiller, assistant director/German coach. Trung Trinh is the orchestra concertmaster. Dr. James Hall, who will perform the role of “Tanzmeister” (Dancemaster), is a former LSC-Kingwood music faculty member back in Houston to join the cast. He is now assistant professor of voice at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. This year’s cast includes graduate students or alumni (young professional singers) from various universities including Lone Star College, University of Houston, Sam Houston State University, Prairie View A&M, and Houston Community College.
The Kingwood Summer Opera is a unique hybrid program that models itself after summer professional opera apprentice programs. It allows emerging professionals and graduate students a chance to sing lead roles, thus gaining valuable stage experience while learning a complete role. Less-experienced students and community members also gain valuable experience by singing back up roles and in the chorus.
KSO is well-respected because of LSC-Kingwood’s creative team of music faculty. Heath-Welch and Schiller have a plethora of professional operatic experience and are eager and passionate about opera. Heath-Welch sang leading roles with the English National Opera and many other leading opera houses in England and across Europe. Schiller was a singer at the Kommische Oper in Berlin for 30 years.
Tickets to the Kingwood Summer Opera’s production of “Ariadne Auf Naxos” are $20 for adults and $15 for senior citizens and students. Seats are limited and early reservations are recommended. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 281-312-1709.
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Assistant director/German coach and LSC-Kingwood music faculty member, Gottfried Schiller (center) works with James Hall (left) and other cast members as they prepare for Kingwood Summer Opera’s performance of “Ariadne Auf Naxos,” by Richard Strauss. The Kingwood Summer Opera collaborates with talent from Houston’s arts and music scene this month in two performances of the Richard Strauss’ masterpiece “Ariadne Auf Naxos.” The two-hour opera will be presented on Lone Star College-Kingwood’s recently remodeled Main Stage in the Performing Art Center, June 27 at 7:30 p.m. and June 29 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for senior citizens and students. Seats are limited and early reservations are recommended. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 281-312-1709.