About Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi
The NAU Opera program prides itself on giving every student the chance to perform on the main stage to better prepare the singers for the professional world of opera. The two operas are double cast, meaning that there are two “versions” of each opera, with the roles of each version played by different students. In addition, there is no age restriction for the cast members.
“You can be an undergraduate freshman or come in during your last master study year,” Schellen said. “We are one of the few schools who do that.”
There is a feeling of great privilege for those who get to work under the direction of Schellen, whose opera experience has spanned over four decades. Scott Balantine, a junior vocal performance and choral education major who plays the role of Gianni Schicchi, has been working with Schellen since his freshman year.
“This is my third year of productions with Nando, and I continue to learn and grow as a singer under his direction,” Balantine said. “He gives the singer guidelines to work within on stage and then the singer is at liberty to explore their character.”
“Working with Nando is wonderful [because] he gives you freedom to express the character the way you feel,” Surrena said. “At the same time, he creates a successful framework that motivates you and gives you ideas for characterization. The rest of the cast is also wonderful to work with [because] we all support each other and drive each other to create the best production possible.”
In the Media
L’Incoronazione di Poppea
(The Coronation of Poppea)
By Claudio Monteverdi and Giovanni Francesco Busenello
Performances April 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 2014
In Italian with English Super titles
At Ardrey Memorial Auditorium on Campus NAU
Ian Andrews Review - April 5, 2014
The Coronation of Poppea
In the pre-performance lecture, The Coronation of Poppea was described as being more of a play with music instead of a traditional opera. This meant that the audience members in attendance would have to completely disregard their preconceived notions of opera in order to fully enjoy what was being presented, and once that pre-requisite has been taken care of, The Coronation of Poppea becomes a world unto itself unlike any production I’ve seen before.
The performances of all singers perfectly match the text they are singing and the emotional atmosphere being created by the on-stage chamber ensemble. Each of the characters, ranging from the brash and head-strong Nero, to the ambitious and conniving Poppea, and my personal favorite, the level-headed and introspective Seneca, all characters feel alive and believable, even if some are unnamed and have little stage time. The minimal stage design mixed with sparse, dramatic lighting, made sure that almost every single scene of this opera felt unique and distinct from each other, especially when silhouettes were cast along the walls of Ardrey Auditorium. Along side the wonderful performance of the singers was the on-stage chamber orchestra, in particular the basso continuo players, who matched the tone of the vocal performers and stage atmosphere perfectly.