FESTIVAL OF ONE-ACT OPERAS
Directed by Douglas Nagel
October 23, 25*, 30 and November 1*, in the Roebling Theatre
Friday performances at 7:30 pm, Sunday matinees* at 2 pm
Also on Sunday, October 25 @ 7:30 bid on your favorite
singer at Auction of Arias.
GIANNI SCHICCHI by
Florence, Italy, 1299: a hilarious
sitcom? Yes, indeed. Gianni Schicchi (say Johnny SKEE-kee) is
exactly that. Like vultures, a conniving family tries to
redirect their rich relative’s will from a monastery to their
own benefit through disguise, impersonation, and bribery, only
to be out-foxed in the end. Laughs abound and young love
triumphs in this one-act production which includes one of
opera’s most beloved arias.
THE OLD MAID AND THE THIEF by
Gian Carlo Menotti
Set in the early 1950s, The Old Maid
and the Thief tells the tale of the persuasive powers of women.
The spinster, Miss Todd, takes in a strange man. Laetitia, her
maid, becomes enamored of him. Together the two steal everything
from Miss Todd, including her car, while Miss Pinkerton, a
spinster friend of Miss Todd’s, is hot on their trail. (55
Hold the tears: NOVA’s one-act operas will have you laughing,
not crying, next week
By JACI WEBB Photos by Hannah Potes
“The Old Maid and the Thief,” featuring Gavin Askin as Bob, Malia
Howell as Miss Todd and Janie Sutton as Miss Pinkerton, from left.
The one-act opera “Gianni Schicchi” features William Mouat in the
title role and real-life couple Emily and James Duncan as young
lovers Lauretta and Rinuccio.
The crew behind the scenes for NOVA’s one-act opera stagings
includes, from left, director Doug Nagel, costumers Gary Treglown
and Mary Ann Conners, and stage manager Jessica Goldade.
For anyone intimidated by a full-scale,
three-hour opera sung in a foreign language, NOVA Center for the
Performing Arts has the perfect solution: opera light.
are no tragic death scenes or cursed maidens in the two comedic
operas staged at NOVA’s Festival of One-Act Operas.
audiences will experience laugh-out-loud moments during performances
of “Old Maid and the Thief” and “Gianni Schicchi.” They will also
hear soaring arias written by one of the most-lauded composers in
history, Giacomo Puccini. And all of the words are in English.
Doug Nagel, one of the founders of Rimrock Opera who now teaches
voice at Montana State University Billings, directs the two short
operas. He also takes on the role of Simone in “Gianni Schicchi.”
The operas will be performed on Oct. 23, 25 and 30 and Nov. 1 in
the Roebling Theater at the NOVA Center, 2317 Montana Ave. Call NOVA
at 591-9535 for tickets and show times.
The operas will
feature some new talent to Billings, including a real-life married
couple, James and Emily Duncan, who play a young couple about to be
married in “Schicchi.”
“He’s a major goofball,” Emily said of
The Duncans started looking for opportunities to
perform opera even before they arrived in Billings last year with
their three children.
“This is what we love to do,” James
William Mouat performs in the title role of Schicchi.
Set in Florence, Italy, in 1299, the story follows a conniving
family set on acquiring money from a rich relative by changing the
will, which bequeaths the fortune to a monastery. Schicchi is hired
by the family to oversee the hoax.
“I feel like a one-act
opera makes opera more friendly to the public,” Mouat said.
“Sometimes an opera sounds too intimidating, but when you put it in
English, it becomes more accessible.”
Mouat said there are
still musically powerful moments in the production, especially a
duet performed by the young couple, but there is plenty of
“The Old Maid and the Thief” is also performed in
English. Set in the early 1950s and written by Gian Carlo Menotti,
“Old Maid and the Thief” tells the story of a spinster who takes in
a visitor. Her maid becomes enamored with him, and together the two
connive to steal everything from Miss Todd, including her car. But
another spinster is hot on their trail.
Gavin Askin, who
plays the stranger Bob, took on his first opera performance in
“Susannah.” For him, opera was an extension of the competitive
speech and drama he did at Skyview High. Opera has it all, he said.
“I love making people smile,” said Askin, who at 21 is the
youngest member of both casts.
But don’t let Askin’s young
age fool you. Nagel described his voice as naturally beautiful.
“Wait till you hear his aria; it’s melancholy yet still
beautiful,” Nagel. “Besides that, he gets to play the hunk of the