Opera promises to be hit

Opera promises to be hit

by Sarina Rhinehart

What women do best is infidelity.

Two men decided to put that to the test.

They bet one another that their fiancées will be faithful to them, and then pretend to be called up for battle, only to go into disguise and seduce the other girl.

Sound like a trailer for a new romantic comedy you may have seen?

This twisted plot of steamy romance, charming laughs and devastating drama is Simpson’s spring opera production of Mozart’s “CosÌ fan tutte.”

“The opera will be an evening of gorgeous music, laughter, and reflection on human desire and its potential consequences,” Director of Opera Bernard McDonald said.

Cast members think the public will really enjoy this opera.

“With a bit of poison and declaration of undying love, the opera creates a comedic laugh with realistic aspects that the public will adore, “said Jessica Soko sophomore and cast member.

There are over 65 people involved in this semester’s opera, with rehearsals every weeknight from 7:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. plus additional weekend practices.

“Some may think that operas are old-fashioned, boring, and that they won’t understand what is going on; this opera is not like that,” sophomore Meghan Kasanders said. “We are translating the entire opera into English, so people can follow the story easily. We are modernizing the opera into the mid-20th century, and it is a comedy.”

Simpson produces two operas a year, something almost unheard of at the undergraduate level.

Kasanders, who plays the role of Fiordiligi, came to Simpson with career aspirations of performing opera professionally. Kasanders feels that the opportunity to take part in full stage operas as an undergraduate is what made her choose Simpson. 

“So many successful people have sprouted from Simpson’s music department,” Kasanders said. “It’s incredible to know they all started at the same place I am today.”

“Simpson music students get an immersion in the production of opera, and singing solo before an audience, at an early and formative stage in their lives, leaving Simpson with a lot more experience than their peers elsewhere,” McDonald said. “We do opera with a tight-knit, individualized support system of intense one-to-one lessons, private vocal coaching, and extra ensemble rehearsals.”

The opera has been at Simpson College since 1953, when freshman Robert L. Larsen had to step in as the leading baritone at the last moment.

After many years as director, Larsen retired this past fall; McDonald was appointed director of opera.

“I love my job,” McDonald said. “There are many challenges in producing opera, but I have learned that for Simpson students opera is not only a question of vocational training and professional development. It is a vehicle for self-discovery and self-improvement that truly changes their lives. To lead a program that so tangibly enhances the lives of so many students has had a profound effect on me too.”

Music students describe McDonald as extremely passionate and devoted to the success of the students.


“He is organized, meticulous and has moments of pure genius directing these works,” Soko said.

When many cast members were on tour with the Madrigal Singers two weekends ago, McDonald went along and had music rehearsal with a keyboard in hotels along the way.


“The combination of Bernard’s wonderful music direction and Bruce Brown’s brilliant stage direction is going to produce a fantastic show,” Kasanders said.

The highly enthusiastic and professionally experienced music faculty is what helps give Simpson a nationwide reputation as one of the best programs of its kind in the United States. The faculty works in-depth with students to help them grow and to ensure their success.


“I do get nervous, but I always say that nerves are good because they show that you care about what you’re about to do,” Kasanders said. “I usually get nervous right before I step onto stage, but after I sing a couple of my first notes, I just enjoy what I love to do which is make music.”

“CosÌ fan tutte” is not only a comedy, but also an exploration of desire, human weaknesses and the meaning of love.

The spring opera will be Feb. 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. in Lekberg Hall.

For tickets call 515-961-1637. Advanced booking is recommended. For more details visit www.simpson.edu/opera.