New Opera Ensemble Sings Successfully
Sunday night’s performance of The Secret Marriage in Warner Concert Hall showed what committed Oberlin students can achieve in just a few months. The Oberlin Chamber Opera Ensemble was founded at the beginning of the spring semester to rehearse and perform this opera by Italian composer Domenico Cimarosa, a contemporary of Mozart. Visiting Associate Professor of Opera Theater Sally Stunkel directed the production.
The ensemble sang an English language adaptation of the work, but this did not detract from the quality of the performance. Neither did the modest set, which consisted of a few pieces of furniture. The performers’ body language positively filled the space, and so did their voices.
It’s hard to say who stole the show, but most of the laughs were shared by two performers. The humorously dyspeptic Mr. Grumblemore (Conservatory junior Jason Eck) is unable to cope with all the complications that threaten his plan to marry off his eldest daughter to a count. From the moment he was first heard grumbling offstage, the audience was overcome with laughter. Eck’s resonant voice and cartoonish body language brought his character to life. Moreover, he seemed to enjoy the role as he skittered around the stage, hunched over and throwing up his arms, singing “for jubilation!” to the delight of everyone in the theater.
Count Robinson (Conservatory senior Jeffrey Hill) made a grand entrance, which prompted a moment of explosive laughter, as he glided on stage wearing a black suit and flowing cape, flaunting a cigarette holder in his elegantly raised hand. Hill’s voice is a force to be reckoned with, one that sounds effortless but absolutely commands the listener’s attention.
To focus on these two performers alone would be negligent. There was not a weak performer in the six-person cast. The tremendous vocal control and expressiveness that each exhibited was representative of the standards of the Conservatory, and just as importantly, each performer infused his or her role with individual personality and enthusiasm. In addition, there were no evident mistakes and everyone had his or her parts memorized.
Conservatory junior and pianist Anne Moxon was an energetic and expressive one-person orchestra. While the elements that made up the show were small, the sum was something much greater.
Most of the audience in attendance was made up of Conservatory students, as evidenced by the groupie-like laughter of people who knew the performers personally. There was a good turnout at the event, though maybe not as great a turnout as there ought to be for a one-night-only performance of such high quality.