Bob Jones University will present Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola in Rodeheaver Auditorium at 8 p.m. March 8, 10 and 12. The opera is the first production in this semester’s Concert Opera & Drama Series, the other one being Shakespeare’s Hamlet in April.
The 2014 production of Aida, with its cast of more than 200, was the largest opera BJU produced. La Cenerentola will be the smallest one with a cast of 39.
The principal singers include five professional guest singers, Karin Mushegain a mezzo-soprano, Timothy Renner, a baritone, Adelmo Guidarelli, a bass-baritone, Jonathan Blalock, a tenor and Andrew Garland, a baritone.
Two other principal singers are Joanie Pegram, the elementary choir teacher at Bob Jones Academy, and Meredith Keen, a senior orchestral instrument performance major at BJU.
The opera will be sung in Italian with supertitles above the stage in English.
La Cenerentola is the fairytale story of Cinderella although a few things are different in this version.
Director and designer for the opera, Jeff Stegall of the theatre arts faculty, said most people are familiar with the Disney version of Cinderella—the evil stepmother, the fairy godmother, talking mice and a magic pumpkin.
But in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Cinderella’s name is Angelina, and the stepmother is a stepfather named Don Magnifico.
Instead of a fairy godmother, there is a man named Alidoro, a philosopher and tutor to the prince, who uses his influence to help Angelina make it to the prince’s dinner party.
Rehearsals for the opera began in late January. The cast will perform for the guest singers Monday, giving the guests a preview of the roles they will then step into.
Darin Cho, a piano voice performance major, is the understudy for the part of Angelina and has been rehearsing since last summer. As an understudy, she stands in for the role at all rehearsals until the guest performers arrive.
The opera will be a unique version of a classic fairytale and a light-hearted performance.
“The costumes and set have a slightly stylized, storybook qulity about them,” Stegall said. “There is a strong contrast between the hard, difficult house of Cinderalla’s family, and the easy palace of her future happiness.”
Dr. Michael Moore, conductor for La Cenerentola, said not to expect the story to be heavy with drama.
“I think that this opera is going to shatter some of those misconceptions about what an opera can be.”
Moore said that anyone who views operas as boring should come without prejudice and be willing to enjoy something new.