Dealing with the stress and excitement of the upcoming fall opera, requires a strong body, both mentally and physically. Dr. Robert Larsen, professor of music who has directed Simpson’s annual fall opera for 51 years, is recovering from his recent triple heart bypass surgery, and he hasn’t let it slow him down.
“I am doing well,” he said. “I’ll be able to be back into the swing of things soon.”
Larsen’s operation took place the week before classes began. One week later, he was holding vocal auditions in his living room. He has also been conducting music lessons with students at his home.
Freshman Ashley Frederiksen auditioned for the opera last week and said she’d been in contact with Dr. Larsen.
“His progress has been really fast, and he is doing really, really well,” Frederiksen said.
The fall opera, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 10-12 has required some adjustments. Larsen described them as a departmental project.
“It is more divided up, but it should be fun,” he said.
Larsen will be in charge of musical direction while other faculty members from the music department will be handling other aspects of the production.
The department is performing two operas: “Prima Donna,” by Rufus Wainwright and “Il Campanello” by Gaetano Donizetti.
Rita Audlehelm, RN, MA and director of health services, said heart bypass surgery is a complex operation.
“It involves bypassing the diseased vein,” she explained. “[The surgeon] takes new [veins], usually from the legs, to replace the diseased ones.”
Audlehelm said this type of procedure is usually used in patients that have coronary artery disease, which is caused by a build up of plaque on the walls of the arteries leading towards the heart. Plaque is a fatty build up in the arteries that can make it difficult for fresh blood to travel to the heart.