Caroline Tye
 Jeffery Madison
The Johanna Meier Opera Theatre Institute, already underway at Black Hills State University, will include two key performances, Opera Scenes and Carmen.

Opera Scenes, by Benjamin Britten and Johann Strauss, in English, will be Friday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Clare and Josef Meier Recital Hall and on Saturday evening, June 29, at 7:30 p.m. the Institute’s students will step on to the stage at Woodburn Hall to perform a condensed version of Bizet’s beautiful and compelling opera Carmen. A pre-opera lecture by Dr. Johanna Meier will be held at 7 p.m. prior to both performances, assistant professor of music.

The first performance of Carmen, by French composer, Georges Bizet, took place in Paris on March 3, 1875 and initially was not well received. Bizet died three months later at the age of 37, unaware that he had just composed his greatest triumph. The wild and passionate music will transport the audience to the gypsy world of 1820s Spain.

Carmen is a beautiful gypsy girl who works in a cigarette factory in Seville. She sings, dances, and flirts her way through life; living for the moment.

Don José is a young corporal from a staid and conventional background who falls in love with Carmen.  His love for her leads to his downfall. When a dashing toreador, Escamillo, comes on the scene tragedy ensues.

The libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy is based on a novella by Prosper Mérimée. Thanks to Bizet’s brilliant opera the gypsy girl Carmen has become one of the most well-known characters in fiction.

Mezzo-soprano Caroline Tye from New York City will perform the role of the fiery gypsy Carmen. She holds an undergraduate degree from Skidmore College and a Master of Music from Boston Conservatory.

Tenor David Morgan, who attends the University of Minnesota, will perform the role of the conflicted young corporal Don José. David is a student of Institute faculty member David Walsh.

Baritone Jeffery Madison, a professional vocalist and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, will perform the role of Escamillo.

Tickets will be available at the door. On Saturday, a catered buffet dinner is available at 5:30 p.m. in the Meier Hall Atrium. Dinner tickets are $15 ($10 for children under 12, students, and seniors over 65) and reservations are required. Call 642-6420 or contact Jean Osborn for reservations and information.

The Opera Theater Institute, now in its fifteenth year, is directed by Johanna Meier, an internationally acclaimed opera singer. After retiring from her singing career, Dr. Meier has worked tirelessly to help further arts and culture in her hometown of Spearfish. She is committed to enhancing the education of career-oriented musicians whose goal is performance and brings her many years of stage experience to help students reach their goals. Many of her professional colleagues in the opera world come to join in the endeavor as faculty and staff members. The 24 participants, who were selected by special auditions, participate in master classes, staging sessions, individual coaching sessions, body movement classes, and career advising sessions. The opera program culminates in performances of opera scenes as well as a full length opera, which have been staged and coached by directors from major national opera companies.

BHSU music faculty member Dr. Nancy Roberts is the program coordinator; Dr. Jonathan Nero serves as chorus master; and Dr. Pamela Wegner serves as the costume designer.

The music director and conductor of the program is John Stewart, former Director of vocal activities at Washington University in St. Louis. David Walsh has worked extensively as a stage director in Asia, Europe, and North America, and presently is Director of Opera Theatre at the University of Minnesota, School of Music. Jolly Stewart, former head of Washington University Opera, is also a stage director for the Institute. Coach/accompanist Elizabeth Hastings is Music Director of the Liederkranz Foundation in New York City. Melanie Lien, a choreographer, dancer, and movement instructor from Rapid City, provides weekly classes in body movement. Choreography for the opera Carmen will be done by Andrea Parker of the Black Hills Dance Centre.

Several BHSU students will be performing in the Carmen chorus, including Joel Williams, a senior music education major from Riverton, Wyo.; Kirk Hauck, a sophomore psychology major from Belle Fourche; Cody Pepitone, sophomore music major from Ellsworth; Karlee Gusso, a junior music major from Belle Fourche, and Erik Belsaas, senior chemistry major from Rapid City. The chorus is directed by Dr. Jonathan Nero. 

Visit BHSU.edu/Opera or contact Jean.Osborn@BHSU.edu or call 605-642-6420 for more information.