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UofL teams with Polish conservatory to stage Mozart opera

August 14th, 2007

The Marriage of Figaro
Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.
Bomhard Theatre, Kentucky Center, 501 W. Main St.
Tickets go on sale Aug. 15. Call 800-775-7777.


Bass-baritone Nathan Wilson will sing the title role.

The plot of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” is well-known: The lecherous Count Almaviva is determined to seduce his wife’s maid, Susanna. Susanna, her fiancé Figaro (the count’s valet) and the countess are just as determined to prevent it. The three conspire to teach the count lessons in fidelity, all amid cases of mistaken identity and other twists and turns.

The characters’ complicated plans seem incredibly simple when compared to the actual execution of any Mozart opera. Throw in two casts at two schools separated by an ocean, however, and one can imagine the challenges the University of Louisville Opera Theatre and the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland, face as they mount this collaborative production.

The schools have had an exchange program since 2003, but with productions scheduled in Louisville and Katowice, two full choruses and orchestras, two casts and portable sets that will be rolled up and sleeved for transport, this is their most logistically involved project to date.

“It’s certainly challenging to do a bi-continental production where most of the preparation has to be done long distance,” said Michael Ramach, UofL Opera Theatre stage director. “But with technology, it’s really becoming an even smaller world.”

High-quality DVD recordings, webcams and voice-over internet protocol (VOIP) have come in handy with international auditions and rehearsals. Having a UPS hub in Louisville has helped to lessen the distance between Louisville and Katowice when it comes to transporting sets. After having worked on the project since 2005, all the pieces, from auditions to rehearsals and costume fittings, are coming together.

“We’ve talked about things for so long, it’s fun to finally see all the plans working out,” said Kimcherie Lloyd, director of orchestra and opera at UofL, and conductor for both productions.

In October, one month before the first performance, academy students will arrive in Louisville to rehearse with their UofL counterparts. Their trip will culminate with two performances in early November. In January, UofL students will go to Katowice to perform the opera with academy students there.

“To sing ’Le Nozze de Figaro’ in its original Italian at our age in this country is substantial, but to have the chance to then take the production to Europe is immense,” said Nathan Wilson, a recent graduate of the UofL Opera Theatre program who will sing the title role.

“It’s a really great dramatic work, and it still makes people laugh,” said Ramach, who counts the “The Marriage of Figaro” as his favorite opera. “No matter what their age or nationality, audiences will not be disappointed.”

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