The Cali School of Music Opera program with the University Symphony Orchestra had two spectacular performances of Puccini’s comedic masterpiece Gianni Schicchi and Michael Ching’s Buoso’s Ghost over the weekend, with Anna Rebek, director, Kyle Ritenauer, conductor, and Karen Driscoll, Head of Artistic Operations/Opera. Thank you to Co-sponsors Montclair State University’s Coccia Institute & Foundation for the Italian Experience in America and the Inserra Family for their invaluable support of this year’s production.
Both performances were powerful works that enthralled the enthusiastic audience. “Watching the magic of how a show comes together has always been fascinating to me and this show was just that: magical! This magic is created because opera is the most collaborative art form out there. It is the nexus of where voice, orchestra, drama, art (both scenic & costume design), dance (and there was some of that rolled in there too) all comes together and ignites!” said Karen Driscoll. “We cannot accomplish any of this without our amazing Cali community pulling it all together and creating the magical and transformative experience for our performers and audience. I have so much gratitude for all the students and colleagues that made this weekend such a huge success. I can’t wait to make some more magic!”, Driscoll continued.
Orchestra Director Kyle Ritenauer said, “What I found most gratifying about the Cali opera production was the level of collaboration that went into the process. In no other performance are there so many factions of the school involved. The vocal department which involved over a dozen singers rehearsing for months, the orchestra department putting in an unbelievable amount of rehearsal (both singers and orchestra cutting their winter breaks short in order to be involved), and the countless stage managers, stage hands, costume designers, set designers, coaching, and private teachers that played a role. These operas, in addition to being complex logistically, were an extraordinary artistic challenge for all singers, instrumentalists, and artists involved. To have everything come together in the way that it did is a small miracle. It is due in every way to each person involved doing their job with a level of care and attention that is inspiring. I am so proud of how the Cali students rose to the challenges placed in front of them and how they overcame many individual struggles to grow into their role or part they played in the production. These students should never be underestimated.”
Director Anna Rebek added, “My approach to directing opera is really based on the idea that it’s never too sacred to be fun. It should be fun to watch, fun to do, fun to unlock piece by piece, and fun to thrive in healthy ensembles. The other part of the process to balance is the rigorous part. We should be musically tight, we should be rhythmically together, we should make sure we shoot our voices out at the audience, and rigorously commit to the onstage movement. As a Yale theater performance major, the main stage show was always a HUGE deal. Great set, great costumes, and a professional experience for the students. That’s what I wanted so much to give these students – they worked really hard, they understood the story, and their role in it. They were excellent teammates to each other, and I was so proud of how it all came together – they found the balance between the work and the fun!”
All Photos by Rob Davidson