“Once Upon a Time” is coming to UNC.
The UNC Opera will perform its workshop production “Once Upon a Time: Operatic Fairy Tales” on Saturday.
See ‘Once Upon a Time’
Time: 8 p.m. Saturday
Location: Hill Hall
The performance is a compilation of scenes from five operas: “Zemire et Azor” by Andre Gretry, “Hansel und Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdink, “Falstaff” by Giuseppe Verdi, “Fables: Five Very Short Operas” by Ned Rorem and “Iolanthe” by Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert.
Bobb Robinson, director of the show, said he got the inspiration for the theme from popular shows and movies like “Twilight,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Once Upon a Time.”
Robinson said he hopes incorporating popular culture with opera will garner more student interest.
“Opera can speak to us with the things that we’re feeling right now,” Robinson said.
Adam Mitchell, a master’s student in music education who is in the production, said the show uses chairs for the set pieces and black clothing for the costumes with minimal props to signify characters.
“We’re taking a really minimalist approach,” Mitchell said. “We’re really relying on the actors and singers to convey what we’re doing.”
Rachel Hicks, a senior music and dramatic art major in the production, said while the opera includes well-known composers like Verdi, it also includes some lesser-known operas.
“What’s exciting about this program is that we’re introducing people to work they would not normally hear,” Hicks said.
Robinson said one of his favorite pieces, “Zemire et Azor” — based on “Beauty and the Beast” — was unfamiliar to him before a friend suggested the music.
He said the music in the UNC Music Library had not been checked out since 1956.
“I kind of felt like I made a little discovery,” he said.
Robinson said he wants to disprove the stereotype that opera is stiff and boring.
“I think audiences have a preconceived notion about what opera is going to be, so I always try to bring a little bit of theatrics,” Robinson said.
Hicks said she hopes the performance helps people develop an interest in the rich, traditional art form of opera.
“There’s such a wide range of what falls under the umbrella of opera — there will be something for everyone,” she said.
Robinson said that although the rehearsal time in class was limited to twice a week, his students helped him pull everything together.
“I sort of feel like I planned to do too much,” Robinson said. “But the students took everything away and learned it on their own.”
Hicks said she wants her performance to inspire love of opera in people the same way she was impressed by the performers when she saw her first opera.
“There is nothing like standing on a stage in front (of) a group of people and getting to communicate with them through music.”
Contact the desk editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.