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Music to Mom's ears with CSUB opera, chamber performances

Cal State Bakersfield has some sweet music for moms this Mother’s Day weekend.

The university's Music & Theatre Department has released recordings of its Opera Spotlight and Chamber Music Duo spring performances, which can be viewed through Sunday night at the CSUB Music YouTube page.

For safety reasons, this is the second set of performances recorded rather than performed live before an audience.

The chamber performances features three duo of student musicians: Zachary Pierce on viola and Anna Poe on piano performing Gabriel Fauré's "Élégie Op. 24";  Michael Padilla on guitar and William Irwin on piano for "Introduction and Fandango" by Luigi Boccherini, arranged by Julian Bream; and Natalie Ruiz on viola and David Garcia on piano performing Louis Vierne's "Deux pièces" — "Le soir" and "Légende."

For the Opera Spotlight, five students perform pieces from well-known operas.

Joshua Forquera, an aspiring tenor in the music education program, plays Canio, performs "Vesti la giubba" from "Pagliacci."

Heather Sanders said this was an "interesting and unique scene to direct."

"I enjoyed playing with lighting and tempo in this scene because his emotions change constantly," the stage director said in the program. "I chose to go with an original outlook for this scene because of its history and the story behind the clown."

CSUB junior Devin McGee, who has performed with the opera theatre program for five semesters and recorded solo repertoires for two, stars as Papageno, performing "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" from Mozart's "The Magic Flute.

Michael Grant, who directed McGee's piece, said the scene strays from the negative trope about seeing marriage as a ball and chain.

"Here, the concept of love and wanting the marriage life is a beautiful thing where that cage is a symbol of yearning for that experience," he said. "One day he hopes he will be willingly 'trapped' in marriage like the birds he captures."

Hunter Selbach, a general music and accounting major who has been involved in the opera scenes for six years, also performs a piece from "The Magic Flute," portraying Tamino for "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön."

Stage director Jacob Cota, who oversaw two pieces in the spotlight, said this is a key moment in the opera.

"Here we see Tamino fall in love with a picture of a princess who is trapped," he wrote in the program. "He professes his love, and we can also see that he doubts every aspect of the mission to the point where he doesn’t even know what to do if he sees her in person."

Music education majors Katlyn Charter and Haley Smith both perform the part of Despina for different pieces from Mozart's "Così fan tutte": Charter sings "Una donna a quindici anni" while Smith takes on "In uomini, in soldati."

Sanders, who directed Smith, set the piece in the 1920s, saying in the program that the operatic scene is about a woman realizing that men only want women when it's convenient for them.

"I chose the 1920s because during this time women were becoming more independent and less reliant on men which is shown in this scene."

Dr. Soo-Yeon Park, director of chamber music and opera, said she hopes everyone celebrating Mother's Day can gather with family and friends over the weekend to enjoy the students' hard work. She is also already thinking about the next performances, which will be open to the public.

"While we've enjoyed the process to make this happen despite all the challenges, I'm looking forward to having a live performance with an audience next semester," she wrote in an email.

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