Local company presents Mozart light opera

June 08, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • Sean Garcia, left, Ann Coffman and Eric Black rehearse for Hub Opera Ensembles production of Cosi fan tutte. The show, set at the outbreak of the Civil War, opens Friday at Hagerstown Community College.
Submitted photo

Some people might not know opera from Oprah.

But Francesca Aguado and Caitlin Budny want to change that. Last year, the two area women bridged the gap between small town and big city by forming their own opera company.

As cofounders of The Hub Opera Ensemble, the professionally trained singers saw a need for offering accessible and affordable performances to the Hag-erstown community.

But would there be public support?

They got their answer when more than 200 people showed up for the ensemble’s first performance last September of Handel’s “Ariodante.”

They are hoping for an even bigger audience when the ensemble presents its second production, “Cosi fan tutte,” Friday, June 10, Saturday, June 11, Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18, at Hagerstown Community College’s Alumni Amphitheater.

Mezzo-soprano Aguado is a University of Maryland graduate, who earned her master’s degree at Towson University and has traveled as far as Austria to study music.

Budny, a soprano, graduated from Catholic University as a vocal major and also studied at the New England Conservatory of Music.

As their plans for a community opera company began to unfold, the two women approached Joseph A. Marschner, assistant professor and coordinator of music and drama at Hagerstown Community College.

“When I was asked to help form the company, I was glad to lend a hand,” he said. With his background, “it was a natural fit.”

In addition to performances, a partnership with HCC was formed.

“We realized that the ensemble could provide educational opportunities to students and adults in the arts community,” Marschner said.

During last fall’s production of “Ariodante,” Marschner said the opera company helped with an opera class for the school’s continuing education department.

“The class was very well received,” he said. “The ensemble also held a successful vocal master class for students in the music and drama departments.”

Consequently, the chorus for the ensemble’s second production, “Cosi fan tutte,” will be comprised of students from HCC.

Marschner said the Mozart comedy will be sung in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage.

“Cosi fan tutte” is the story of two young soldiers who make a bet with their mentor regarding the fidelity of their fiancees, Marschner explained. In order to test the loyalty of their lady loves, they pretend to be called off to war. Instead, the soldiers return in disguise to woo each other’s fiancee and test the strength of their relationships.

“Our production is set amidst the outbreak of the Civil War, commemorating the sesquicentennial and the area’s ties to the war,” Marschner said.

All of the ensemble’s singers are trained professionals, he said. The stage crew, which is all volunteer, is comprised of a former HCC theater director, assistant and student stage manager “who know the facilities well.”

Marschner, who also serves on the ensemble’s board of directors, said the company continues to grow and plans already are being made for the 2011-12 season. The ensemble was registered in April as a not-for-profit organization in the State of Maryland, and currently is working toward a 501(c)3 designation.

If you go ...
WHAT: Hub Opera Ensemble’s production of “Cosi fan tutte” by Mozart
WHEN: 8 p.m. Fridays, June 10 and 17, and Saturdays, June 11 and 18
WHERE: Hagerstown Community College, off Robinwood Drive, east of Hagerstown
COST: Advance tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and seniors and are available at Tickets purchased at the door cost $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. HCC students and staff are admitted free.

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