Opera gives students chance to practice what they love


by Emma Schlenker, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Simpson College’s music department will open “Acis and Galatea” in Pote Theatre this weekend after spending the semester preparing for its comedic rendition of this baroque opera.

Bernard McDonald, chair of Simpson Opera and associate professor of music, said while the show is based on Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” it is still funny, entertaining and silly.

“In our production, this beloved masque, with its colorful characters and young performers, is reinvented as a circus performance that might entertain you as much as Handel’s original production did at Cannons,” McDonald said.

Over the summer, students received emails with their roles. With half the summer to prepare, many performers took the time to read up on the history of the play and order it to read.

Once at school, the opera took off in full swing.

Individual coaching began for principal actors, and chorus members participated in auditions to earn their positions and begin rehearsing.

Simpson College hosts two operas a year and typically has a guest director for one of them. This year, Tim Nelson was brought in to work with students at the beginning of October.

Nelson worked with performers on staging and production the past three weeks. Students say he has brought patience and positivity to the experience.

“Nelson is one of my favorite guest directors we have had,” said senior Grace Peck, who plays the role of Acis.

Peck said while her experience playing Acis has been the most professional so far, it is also some of the most complicated staging she has ever done.

Another performer, sophomore Jordan Williamson, said Nelson has made this experience fun and educational.

“Tim is great,” Williamson said. “He brings a lot of positive energy and makes this all very fun and teaches us a lot. I am really glad we were able to bring them in.”

Freshman David Robinson is a member of the chorus this year. Compared to his experience with opera in high school, Robinson said that the communication is much better here, and he feels like time is used wisely during rehearsals.

“It was a bit challenging at first, but once I got into the rhythm, it all started to come together,” Robinson said.

Erayle Amacker, a sophomore, is debuting in her first principal role as Galatea.

“Rehearsing more than you perform is really pivotal in realizing whether or not you truly like opera, and I really like it,” Amacker said.

The audience has the opportunity to see three different versions of the show as there are three principal casts.

“Every show that you’re going to see is going to be different because we are triple cast,” said Alexis Janiga, a junior playing Galatea. “Every night it is a different set of principal actors. Every night, you’re going to have different dramatic moments, different comedic moments, the characters are going to be played differently. It is very interactive.”

Along with diverse performances by a variety of performers, the audience will get to experience the joy of what the performers love to do.

“This show is an emphasis on how life is a silly, fun thing and how we should focus less on the tensions of the world and the things that don’t go well,” Amacker said. “This show is showing how loving what you do makes life a joyous occasion.”

“Acis and Galatea” will be performed 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Blank Performing Arts Center.