Beauty through balconies
There is no doubt that the entirety of the fall semester has been filled with a combination of excitement, uncertainty, and changes, especially within Fine Arts at Carthage. Carthage has proven to be not just the “little school that could” but is now, at the conclusion of the semester, the “little school that did.” The Fall Opera Workshop was one of the concluding performances of the year, and rightfully so, as it was filled with talented students, awe-striking music, and brand-new elements, as a result of the pandemic.
Initially, the Fall Opera Workshop was going to be a performance that a select few could attend and available to watch from home through Carthage’s livestream. However, it ended up being a fully prerecorded event that took place in the A. F. Siebert Chapel. This meant that everyone — performers, management, Professor Gregory Berg, and many others — was going to experience drastic change, and important decisions had to be made in a short amount of time. Yet, even though there were specific elements of the event that had to shift, the love and passion put in by everyone involved was steady and constant. This consistency revealed itself through the Fall Opera Workshop all its mesmerizing parts.
The event began with Prof. Berg, director of the workshop, giving insight into his experience with physical distancing in opera performances. Despite the obstacles 2020 has brought to the arts and music, Prof. Berg explained his excitement for new opportunities and the ability to rethink how operas are set up, especially in terms of the balcony scenes. Prof. Berg also highlighted and recognized everyone behind the scenes, like the camera crew, who worked to produce the best angles possible for the audiences’ eye.
Prof. Berg concluded his introductory statement by thanking everyone for their hard work, dedication, and willingness to create a production filled with immense talent and creativity. There were two parts of the Fall Opera Workshop, the first being a section of four scenes from operas. An example of one of these scenes was the opening production, “Das Rheingold” composed by Richard Wagner. This scene featured a variety of Carthage students including Sarah Jenkins ’21 as Woglinde, Morgan Taylor ’21 as Wellgunde, Katiann Nelson ’21 as Flosshilde, and Matt Burton ’21 as Alberich. The opening scene brought a feeling of unity and strength as so many incredible students came together to sing and act their way through the fantastic elements of the German opera.
Another piece featured in the performance was “The Magic Flute” composed by Mozart. This scene featured Christopher Glade ’23 as Tamino and Tom Cargille ’21 as The Speaker. Moving from a scene with multiple people and perspectives, this scene brought a new, simplistic tone to the event, but encompassed a great deal of courage in the incredible voices of both Christopher and Tom.
Part 2 of The Fall Opera Workshop featured only balcony scenes that were composed by none other than Prof. Berg himself. These scenes showcased the magnificence of the chapel and the balconies within it. The performers were able to move through the space with grace and have their voices be heard through the chapel and beyond.
Once piece that was performed in this final part of the performance was “Romeo and Juliet: Balcony Scene” composed by Charles Gounod. This scene featured Nathan Takahashi ’21 as Romeo and London Roysden ’21 as Juliet. The costumes and incredible chemistry between the performers were beautifully done and made the viewer feel as if they were in the chapel too, even though the performance was being watched from home. This incredible ability of the students, directors, composers, and camera crew, to give the audience such a united experience from a unique setting truly revealed the dedication of a variety of departments, working together to create art.
Despite the uncertainty of this year, performances like the 2020 Fall Opera Workshop revealed that no matter what the circumstance, Carthage and all of the students, faculty, and staff will always find ways to produce magic and community in our wonderful little home.