“Too Many Sopranos” makes light of the different cliches of opera through comedic lyrics and music.
Azusa Pacific’s School of Music hosted an opera that took its attendees to the gates of heaven, literally.
In the satirical opera “Too Many Sopranos,” four soprano divas stood at the gates of heaven on the stage of Munson Chapel. They had to fight for the one open spot in the heavenly choir, or be exiled to hell.
The modern opera, which premiered in 2000, parodied different eras of classical music as well as the concept of the classic soprano diva. This unconventional show ran through March 28-31, and was filled with funny lyrics which came up through over-dramatized poetic stanzas.
Catherine Ireland, an APU alumnus and artistic director of “Too Many Sopranos,” collaborated with music director Kristor Van Grysperre to bring their vision of the opera to fruition. Ireland chose the opera’s title, “Too Many Sopranos” because there were indeed ‘too many sopranos’ throughout the casting process.
“This opera is unconventional and to some purists they might even say it’s not an opera because there is some spoken dialogue,” said Rico Martinez, who played the tenor role of Nelson Deadly.
Martinez’s character’s lyrics are particularly poetic throughout his attempts to win the lady’s heart he so deeply desires.
“You are working with people who are very sensitive to the human condition,” Martinez said. “Despite it being a comedy it’s still relatable because we’re making fun of what we would do for love.”
Highlights of the performance included someone singing an aria while doing the splits, song lyrics comparing attraction between people to the relationship between a fly and compost, and the surprise appearance of a sandman fairy on stage.
Between the pianist who accompanies every song and the crew behind the scenes, many people contributed to making the opera come together.
“Honestly, my favorite part of the process was developing friendships with the great people who were involved in this process,” Martinez said.
The rehearsal process for “Too Many Sopranos” began three months ago, over the course of which the singers have been hard at work. Throughout the rehearsal process, singers started by working on rhythms and ended with staging, explained Arielle Hubbard, who played the mezzo soprano Dame Doleful.
“The composer was very clever, and he uses different lines from operas, so if you are from the field you are going to have more inside jokes than anybody else,” said Isabella Luchi, who plays the soprano diva role of Miss Titmouse.
Singers who performed in the event experienced highs and lows throughout the demanding production process.
“I feel empowered to do more roles after this character as I found a way to not just sing the notes but put the drama into them,” Luchi said.
Many participants in the opera emphasized the power of music itself and the subtext behind it.
“What I appreciate about opera is its power to evoke such strong emotions that regular music can’t do,” Hubbard said. “It’s such a raw emotion and is a great example of what music can be.”