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Bel canto with 'Opera Scene' at CSUB


Haley Smith, left, and Devin McGee perform a scene from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" for "An Evening of Opera Scenes," coming to Cal State Bakersfield on Friday.

Opera may intimidate some, but its themes and dramatic impact are universal.

"It is storytelling and expresses emotions we struggle with in our lives — young love, tricks, love affairs, despair," music director Soo-Yeon Park said of "An Evening of Opera Scenes," playing Friday at Cal State Bakersfield.

The production of fully staged and costumed opera and musical theater scenes offers the cast and crew a chance to learn about different aspects and challenges of putting together music and a stage performance.

This "Evening" includes four excerpts: Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" with Devin McGee (Figaro) and Haley Smith (Rosina); Verdi's "Rigoletto" with Rachel Stratemeier (Giovanna), Ina Woods (Gilda), Josh Forquera (Duke), Lorea Laverty-Iturriria (Maddalena) and Jose Carrillo (Rigoletto); "The Fantasticks" by Jones & Schmidt with Natalie Rogge (Luisa) and Zachary Richardson (Matt); and "Die Fledermaus" by J. Strauss with Katherine Kiouses (Prince Orlofsky) and Michael Ellsworth (Dr. Falke).

Along with Park, Mandy Rees and Peggy Sears served as the stage directors.

Costume designer Roger Upton wrote of his work in the show: "Costumes are always a fun part of opera. They can let you know the character without hearing a note. This season we have four completely different looks, from 18th-century Spain to mid-20th century America."

Chris Eicher, the show's scenic designer, was thrilled to tackle this project that required four distinct pieces that can capture "the period, style and mood of each scene with just a few broad strokes that cut to the essence of the scenes."

The designer is also thrilled about what's happening creatively at the university.

"As much fun as it is to make art and be a part of this event, it is more exciting that there is such a variety of arts and culture that is being produced here in Bakersfield and on the CSUB campus," he wrote. "Not only do we have fine art exhibits and concerts and live theatre but also this great evening of musical theatre and opera scenes. I am happy to be a part of making this kind of opportunity available to our community."

The show is at 7:30 p.m. Friday at CSUB's Dore Theatre, 9001 Stockdale Highway.

Admission is $12, $7 for seniors (60 and older) and students, free for CSUB students with ID. Visit to purchase tickets in advance.

Free parking is available in lots B and C.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.