Mercyhurst’s D’Angelo Opera Theatre will present the one-act opera “The Old Maid and the Thief ” for one performance only on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in Walker Recital Hall.
Written in 1939 by Gian Carlo Menotti, this opera was meant to be performed on the radio.
This staging is an attempt to duplicate that format, and the performers will sing in front of microphones as if they were performing live on the air.
They use a radio station as a backdrop, with sound effects created using washboards, crumpled paper and other found objects.
It is directed by Louisa Jonason, who said, “I love the period that this show is set in and I know audiences will appreciate what we are trying to do here: to keep the musical culture alive in Erie.”
The opera is a cautionary tale about twisted human morals and evil womanly power: one line from the libretto notes that “The devil couldn’t do what a woman can: make a thief of an honest man!”
Divided into 14 scenes, it is about an old maid, Miss Todd (Abigail Wise, sophomore, Performance) who is a busybody in her small town.
Though she is of high standing in her community, her love life has been bare for over 40 years.
Her housemaid, Laetitia (Lydia Bolin, senior, Performance), is a young, catty eavesdropper who is wary of becoming an old maid like her employer.
Bob (John Hetrick, sophomore, Music Education), a wanderer, comes to Miss Todd’s door one afternoon while the town gossip, Miss Pinkerton (Michelle Cali, post-baccalaureate, Performance) is visiting.
Enamored with Bob’s beauty, Laetitia convinces Miss Todd to let him stay.
Laetitia promises him food and accommodations, and Bob remains in their house as Miss Todd’s “cousin Steve.”
This opera heavily focuses on the themes of the Radio Era and the culture of America before World War II.
When asked why this opera was chosen, Jonason said, “I love the period. I love 1939, it is exciting. This opera is set in an exciting era of our nation’s history.”
For the last 26 years, the program has been headed by Louisa Jonason, assistant professor of Voice and Director of the Opera Program.
She is passionate about her art and her students and yearns to lead by example to revive the culture of music, especially opera.
When it comes to music, Jonason firmly believes that to become a successful performer, “the student needs to have discipline, talent and patience.”
Looking ahead, Jonason anticipates the spring season, which will include a collaboration between D’Angelo Opera Theatre and the Mercyhurst Civic Orchestra entitled “Opera Pops and Sizzles.”
This production will feature students performing well-known pieces from operas such as “La Bohème,” “Don Giovanni” and “Carmen.”
For more information on D’Angelo Opera Theatre, visit miac.mercyhurst.edu or call the box office at 814-824-3000.
Tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for Mercyhurst students and youth.