Divas Search for Selfless Man in ‘Too Many Sopranos’

| April 22, 2011

Sweet Briar College’s Opera Workshop is back with its own production of Edwin Penhorwood’s comic English opera, “Too Many Sopranos.” Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30 in Murchison Lane Auditorium.

In director Marcia Thom’s version, four divas arrive at heaven’s gates only to discover that they must audition for a place in the heavenly choir.

“The divas furiously protest and are, thus, sent to hell on an assignment,” Thom says. “They are told by ‘Saint Paula’ that if they can find one man who will perform a selfless act, then they can all join the heavenly choir. The fun abounds!”

Thom, an opera singer and voice instructor, teaches the opera workshop each spring semester. It’s intended to make opera accessible to performers and audiences alike.

She usually selects a comedy and “Sopranos,” with libretto by Miki Thompson, is no exception. “I chose this piece because it is incredibly difficult musically — but incredibly funny and easy to produce,” Thom said. “The composition of the music is very atonal at times and modern. The students have really worked hard to nail down this piece vocally — it is hard.”

Much like Penhorwood and Thompson’s four divas who couldn’t all be in the choir because there were too few tenors and basses in heaven, Thom had to deal with the problem of having all women students in her class.

She tweaked the plot, changing several roles from male to female. She kept that of Nelson Deadly, who is played by one of her private voice students. He won’t be the only fellow on stage, however.

Associate professor of biology John Morrissey claims Thom “begged/threatened” him into “singing” the role of Bruno the Voice Student. “So, of course, I said, ‘Yes!’ ” said the apparently cowed 6-foot 7-inch Morrissey.

Pianist Anna Billias will be the accompanist. Principal roles will be sung by Sarah Schofield ’11, Amanda Helms ’12, Stacy Ludington ’12, Alex St. Pierre ’12 and Jocelyn Stephens ’11, with a “wonderful cast of angels and devils,” Thom says.

Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, e-mail mthom@sbc.edu or call (434) 381-6221.

Category: Music, Performing Arts, Uncategorized